As I sit in my home office, exaggeratedly typing while I watch YouTube, I see delivery trucks constantly cruising through the neighborhood. Feel how you want about it, but the people have spoken, and they want things delivered. Pretty much all things, including beer. Indeed, interest and enthusiasm for direct-to-consumer (DtC) beer shipping only picked up in 2022, even as the past year has brought some relief from the COVID-19 pandemic.
I am a member of the beer media, so I get plenty of sudsy surprises at my door step. And I can submit this journalistic analysis: It is awesome. But, I recognize my privilege in this area. Not all states allow such things for average craft beer enthusiasts. But, imagine if they did…
Beer delivery interest
The second annual Sovos ShipCompliant Beer DtC Shipping Report, conducted with the Brewers Association, revealed that many craft beer drinkers do not differentiate between beer and other household goods in terms of what they’d like to have conveniently shipped to their homes.
As part of the Sovos ShipCompliant Direct-to-Consumer Beer Shipping Report, The Harris Poll conducted an online consumer survey on behalf of Sovos ShipCompliant among over 500 regular craft beer drinkers, defined as those who drink craft beer at least once per month. The ShipCompliant/Harris Poll consumer survey found that among the products regular craft beer drinkers would like to be able to purchase and have shipped DtC, beer (54%) is just as popular as wine (49%) and several everyday use items such as clothing (58%), self-care products (57%), paper products (56%), cleaning products (56%) and food (53%).
Not all states are on board
Interstate direct-to-consumer beer shipping is only legal in 11 states and D.C., which would maybe be tolerable if it was some public concern about alcohol arriving in the mail. But it is clearly not because wine can be shipped DtC to 47 states and D.C. Put another way, direct-to-consumer interstate shipping is currently only available to 14.8% of the 21+ U.S. population, versus 96.7% of the 21+ population for wine.
Simple parity in shipping availability would grow the potential consumer market 6.5X for beer.
Additionally, the survey found that more than 9 in 10 regular craft beer drinkers who would like to purchase beer via DtC shipping (92%) say if they could do so, they would make those beer purchases once a month or more often.
“In 2021, we discovered that the desire for DtC beer shipping skyrocketed due to the limitations on people accessing their favorite beverages in person,” said Larry Cormier, vice president and general manager, Sovos ShipCompliant. “In 2022, we took our research a step further to find out that 68% of regular craft beer drinkers who would like to purchase beer DtC say they would be willing to spend $50 or more a month – highlighting a lost opportunity for the craft brewing industry because the desire for DtC beer can’t be met in the current regulatory landscape.”
The potential for increased craft business
If beer held the same privileges as wine, craft breweries could have another sales channel to sustain their independent business models beyond the traditional retail-distribution gatekeepers. DtC beer shipping provides a niche to build brands and sell higher value-added products than those they are growing in traditional distribution, making it an increasingly important tool for small and independent craft breweries to use in driving growth.
“Results from this year’s report give us an indication of just how much money is being left on the table for producers and states that forbid DtC beer shipping,” said Bart Watson, chief economist at the Brewers Association. “Based on the findings, it’s clear that expanding DtC shipping would meet consumer demand and boost craft brewery sales.”
- Increased permissions for DtC beer shipping could mean a substantial boost in brewery sales, with three-quarters of regular craft beer drinkers (75%) saying they would purchase more craft beer if they were able to have it shipped directly to their home versus having to go to a retail location to purchase it.
- Among regular craft beer drinkers who would like to purchase beer DtC, an overwhelming majority (92%) say if they could do so, they would make these purchases once a month or more often, and nearly a third (32%) say they would do so weekly or more often.
- When asked how much they would be willing to spend on DtC beer purchases each month, roughly two-thirds of regular craft beer drinkers who would like to purchase beer DtC (68%) say they would spend $50 or more, and more than two-in-five (45%) say they would spend $100 or more monthly.
- College grads are particularly interested in purchasing beer via DtC. Craft beer drinkers with a college degree or higher are more likely than those with a high school diploma or less to say they would like to be able to purchase beer and have it shipped directly to their homes/someone else’s home via a third-party carrier (58% vs. 43%).
- Among regular craft beer drinkers, adults ages 21-54 are significantly more likely than those ages 55+ to say they plan to purchase beer via DtC shipping in 2022 (73% vs. 45%) and those with children under 18 living in the household are more likely than those without to say they plan to purchase beer via DtC shipping in 2022 (79% vs. 57%).