Drink Delivery Dilemma

Minibar, DrinkFly, Drizly, Thirstie, BrewDrop, Saucey, SWILL—these cleverly named services promise on-demand delivery of adult beverages in various markets across the country. In August, online retail behemoth Amazon joined the fray, adding spirits, wine and beer to the list of items offered through its Prime Now service. The alcohol delivery service is only available in Seattle, where Amazon has secured the appropriate licenses, and joins grocery and other items picked from facilities in Seattle and Kirkland, WA, to deliver to customers who place orders via an app. Delivery occurs within an hour for a fee and within two hours for free.

How interested are consumers? Three quarters of legal-drinking age consumers (74%) have never purchased alcohol online, and two-thirds (62%) do not expect to do so in the next year, according to our Trends in Adult Beverage research. Those who do avail themselves of the convenience skew young (21–34) with wine topping the list of alcohol types procured. Additionally, Hispanic and Asian consumers utilize alcohol delivery services more often than other ethnic groups.

Alcohol delivery is certainly striking a chord with key consumer groups, but the model presents challenges for major online retailers like Amazon. While alcohol delivery service startups, such as Drizly and Minibar, do not actually sell the alcohol, Amazon does serve as a retailer. To expand beyond Seattle, Amazon will have to navigate myriad state and local licensing and regulations. And all of these services need to ensure the deliveries land in the hands of legal-drinking-age consumers.

In the age of on-demand everything, alcohol is a unique product category wrought with challenges, but also potential. As delivery service providers expand, the implication for both traditional brick-and-mortar alcohol retailers and on-premise operators is clear: on-demand delivery only adds to the competition for consumer adult beverage purchases.

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Donna Hood Crecca

A veteran of the foodservice industry, Donna Hood Crecca leads the firm’s Convenience Store Practice and is active in its Adult Beverage Practice. She develops research-based insights and recommendations for leading and emerging supplier and operator companies to enhance their go-to-market and product development programs and strategies.

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