WORLD – In a new report from IWSR, the landscape of beverage alcohol ecommerce is undergoing a transformation, moving from the explosive growth seen during the pandemic to a period of normalization 

The study indicates that sales in the world’s leading 16 markets are expected to grow at a slower pace, reaching just under US$40 billion by 2027.  

This represents a significant shift from the +31% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) recorded between 2019 and 2021, settling into a more sustainable +4.5% CAGR from 2022 to 2027. 

Following the Covid boom and subsequent correction in 2022, the IWSR Ecommerce Strategic Study 2023 reveals that the overall ecommerce value share of total beverage alcohol (TBA) is expected to stabilize at around 4%-4.5%. This comes after a rise from 2.1% in 2018 to 3.7% in 2021.  

Guy Wolfe, Head of Ecommerce Insights at IWSR, notes, “After the pandemic boom, ecommerce value saw a slight correction in 2022 (-2%) as restrictions in most markets were removed and shoppers returned to the on-trade and to bricks-and-mortar stores.” 

While the overall proportion of consumers shopping online has decreased, those who continue to do so are increasing their frequency, particularly in China, where online purchasing frequency is still accelerating.  

The report suggests a shift in consumer behaviour, shedding transient users who adopted ecommerce out of necessity during the pandemic while maintaining appeal among ecommerce loyalists. 

China and the US emerge as the primary drivers of absolute value growth for alcohol in ecommerce. The study forecasts a 2022-27 value CAGR of +6% for both countries, outstripped in growth terms by Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia.  

Despite the projected slowdown in online alcohol sales growth, ecommerce is expected to outperform total beverage alcohol sales through 2027. 

Richard Halstead, COO Consumer Insights at IWSR, emphasizes the persistence of value-seeking behaviours in ecommerce amid ongoing economic uncertainty.  

The report indicates that stocking up and buying in bulk are motivations to purchase, urging brand owners to offer strong value propositions beyond mere discounting. 

Categories within the alcohol sector also see shifts, with beer projected to expand the fastest at a value CAGR of +8% between 2022 and 2027.  

This is attributed to growth in China, the US, Brazil, and Mexico. Spirits follow at +5%, with agave and whisky leading the gains in the US and brandy and whisky in China. 

The study also reveals that online alcohol shoppers engage in more pre-purchase research compared to their brick-and-mortar counterparts.  

On average, online shoppers are twice as likely to spend a considerable amount of time researching products before making a purchase.

Brand owners are advised to tailor their content and digital engagement strategies to maximize impact, recognizing the varying degrees of research across markets and demographics. 

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