Interest in direct-to-consumer (DtC) shipping of craft beer is strong and growing among regular craft beer drinkers, according to the new Direct-to-Consumer Beer Shipping Report released today by Sovos ShipCompliant and the Brewers Association. The report analyzes the results of both a consumer poll and a craft brewer survey conducted in the first quarter of 2021.
The Sovos ShipCompliant/Harris Poll consumer survey found an overwhelming majority (84%) of regular craft beer drinkers — defined as those who drink craft beer at least once per month — say they want to be able to legally purchase beer via direct-to-consumer shipping to their homes. This stands in contrast to the fact that interstate direct-to-consumer beer shipping is only legal in 13 states. Additionally, the survey found that more than 7 in 10 regular craft beer drinkers (73%) say the pandemic has increased their interest in purchasing craft beer via DtC shipping.
“It’s perhaps no surprise that craft beer drinkers’ interest in having their favorite beverages shipped to their doorsteps grew amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Larry Cormier, vice president and general manager, Sovos ShipCompliant. “Consumers got a taste for DtC beer shipments, and these attitudes and interests are here to stay. Brewers and regulators alike have a great opportunity to learn from the success of the $3.7 billion DtC wine shipping channel that has grown — compliantly — over the past 15 years.”
Other notable findings in the report centered on craft beer drinkers’ attitudes toward DtC shipping and associated regulations:
- Four in five regular craft beer drinkers (80%) report they would be more likely to try new beer brands if they were able to purchase the beer via direct-to-consumer shipping to their homes.
- Nearly three in five (57%) regular craft beer drinkers say they have purchased craft beer from a brewery and had it shipped directly to their homes via a third-party carrier.
- Since COVID-19 pandemic restrictions began in March 2020, there was a slight uptick in the purchase of craft beer for DtC shipping. Nearly half of regular craft beer drinkers (48%) say they purchased craft beer directly from a brewery and had it shipped directly to their homes via a third-party carrier prior to the pandemic, and just over half (51%) say they did so since the pandemic began.
- Beer lovers may be eager to receive DtC shipments of craft beer from markets outside their local areas, with more than three-quarters of regular craft beer drinkers (78%) saying they have tried a beer while traveling that they wish they could purchase, but it is not available near their home.
Brewer interest is growing too
Just 13% of craft brewers are engaged in direct-to-consumer shipping, according to the Brewers Association survey of 141 U.S. craft brewers in 38 states. Most still focus close to home, with 89% of breweries that do some DtC shipping (via common carrier) reporting that their home states are their primary markets. That said, some breweries are finding markets outside their own states, with 11% now saying they sell more volume DtC out-of-state than in-state.
Given the challenges and opportunities facing breweries, 70% said they would consider using direct-to-consumer shipping to go to market if it were legal in their states (or if it already is). This research further reveals the disconnect between consumer interest and availability of brewery-direct interstate shipments, which are only legal in 13 states.
“Craft brewers across the country are interested in the market access afforded by all types of direct-to-consumer sales, including DtC shipping,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “This is not only a pandemic-induced pivot but a response to the growing demand we see from beer lovers to access their favorite beverage — online and shipped to their homes — the same way they do countless other goods in today’s ecommerce era.”