Coming at an inflection point as a “new normal” emerges, the latest report from alcohol e-commerce marketplace Drizly points to blurred lines between two hot categories – hard seltzer and ready-to-drink cocktails – and how Gen Z’s penchant for conscious consumption may shape the industry for years to come.
The 2021 Drizly Consumer Report, the third-annual study of how Americans shop for and consume adult beverages, also found that e-commerce, which experienced rapid growth during the pandemic, has become a mainstream way to purchase alcohol in adult shoppers’ minds.
The findings came from a nationwide survey of 1,000 Americans of legal drinking age, independent from Drizly’s customer base, conducted in June 2021. Among the study’s highlights:
- What hard seltzer actually is eludes many adults, likely blurring the lines with red-hot, ready-to-drink cocktails (RTDs). Surprisingly, less than a third of adults surveyed could accurately describe what hard seltzer is. The correct definition – carbonated water with alcohol made from malt or sugar – was known to only 32% of respondents. When asked what they’d reach for first this summer, respondents gave RTDs (30%) the slight edge over hard seltzer (29%), speaking to likely confusion between the two segments, especially when considering that hard seltzers have outsold RTDs by two-to-one on Drizly so far this year.
- Gen Z leads in conscious consumption. How it’s made and by whom matters most for Gen Z consumers, who over-indexed on both factors compared to other generations in purchase decision making. Nearly one third of 21 to 24-year-olds surveyed cited minority-ownership (BIPOC, women, AAPI, LGBTQ+, etc.) as an important brand choice consideration, followed by Millennials at 18%, Gen X at 14% and Baby Boomers at 11%. Sustainable business practices are also a driving force for Gen Z, with 40% saying that they factor environmental track record into alcohol brand selection, followed by Gen X (33%), Millennials (32%) and Baby Boomers (20%).
- Some pandemic-made habits at home are poised to stick around. As the phase dubbed “normal-ish” sets in, survey findings point to activities like cooking (80%) and streaming (74%) poised to be enjoyed with a drink with the same or greater frequency as during the pandemic. While cocktail making ranked last in terms of post-pandemic stickiness, it remains strong, with over half (68%) of respondents expecting to continue home mixology with similar or greater frequency.
- A majority of consumers are ready to get back to “normal,” but for some, pandemic impacts are lasting. A year and half after the pandemic shuttered on-premise venues, only six percent of respondents reported that they did not plan to return to a bar or restaurant. However, while 26% of respondents said they plan to drink on-premise more frequently than pre-pandemic, just about as many (25%) plan to do less frequently.
- While the pandemic fueled alcohol e-commerce, it is poised for long-term growth. The majority of respondents (53%) anticipate more of their alcohol purchases will be made online in the next year compared to during the pandemic, suggesting a fundamental shift in how Americans will shop for alcohol. Another 33% expect to order online about the same as during the pandemic, while only 14% plan to order less.
“Our study revealed that the pandemic has changed how we consume and purchase alcohol in some fundamental ways, along with interesting dynamics among hard seltzers and ready-to-drink cocktails, two segments that are reshaping the industry,” said Drizly CEO Cory Rellas. “We also find Gen Z adults’ penchant for considering ownership and sustainability in alcohol brand choices worth watching.”
Consumers of legal drinking age can visit Drizly.com or download the Drizly app (App Store and Google Play) to shop inventory from local retailers in their market for beer, wine and spirits delivered on demand.
Drizly bills itself as North America’s largest e-commerce alcohol marketplace allowing consumers to shop beer, wine and spirits. Drizly partners with retailers in over 1,800 cities to offer consumers of legal drinking age a vast selection and a transparent, personalized shopping experience.