This year’s Thanksgiving celebrations were different than years past — and so too were consumers’ alcohol buying patterns.
Online alcohol delivery service Drizly, for example, saw record demand, as well as increased interest in different types of ordering services. On the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, typically a big night for local bars, the service saw 173.6% higher than average sales. On Tuesday, Nov. 24 sales were 69.8% higher than the average of the previous four Tuesdays, excluding Election Day on Nov. 3. And Monday’s sales were 43.6% higher than the average of the previous four Mondays. The service’s growth arrives during an already record-setting year for Drizly, which saw 350% year-over-year sales spike.
Beyond the sales increase itself, the platform also saw people trying out new ways to buy booze. Drizly’s White Glove servce, which began in 2016 and historically catered mostly to offices or business events looking to buy bottles in bulk, saw a big jump in November. Over Thanksgiving week — between Nov. 23 and Nov. 25 — White Glove orders were up 1,063% compared to the same period in 2019.
Historically, White Glove has been offered as a corporate service for large orders or events, Kimberly Hedmark, Drizly’s senior manager of corporate business development told Modern Retail. However, like other services, this year the company found that tailoring the White Glove marketing to large groups of friends and family to be fitting.
Meanwhile, what people are ordering is also changing. Alcohol makers, such as Bacardi, are seeing increased interest in high end brands, said Brenda Fiala, global vp of strategy, insights and analytics at Bacardi, citing internal data. According to the most recent Nielsen market data, the ultra premium alcohol segment currently leads the spirits price tier growth, making up 31% of overall market share. Fiala pointed to Bacardi’s new holiday survey, which polled over 2,000 consumers, of which nearly 50% said they’re prioritizing springing for a high end spirit this season.
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More consumers are buying nicer spirits online, she said. “We’re seeing a similar trend with e-commerce platforms such as Cocktail Courier, Reserve Bar, as well as Drizly,” said Fiala.
Even prior to Thanksgiving, stay-at-home orders gave alcohol delivery services a big boost at the start of the pandemic. According to Neilson, use of alcohol delivery via platform apps — including Drizly competitors Minibar, Saucey and Reserve Bar — increased by nearly 250% in March. Those platforms all saw triple digits growth, compared to the beginning of 2020. Nine months later, and alcohol delivery still seems to have momentum.
The e-commerce sales are also having a big impact on Drizly’s independent retail partners. Since coronavirus hit last spring, 78% of shops saw online sales jump; Many of these merchants also reported that online sales now make up at least 30% of total sales.
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Right now, people are missing out on the bar experience, Fiala said. “They’re replacing that investment in fancy cocktails by ordering a bottle online.”