An overwhelming majority (84%) of regular craft beer drinkers want to be able to legally purchase beer via direct-to-consumer (DtC) shipping to their homes as revealed by a report that was 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 desire for DtC shipping stands in contrast to the fact that interstate DtC beer shipping is legal in only 14 out of the 50 states (28%). Six states—Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Hampshire and Rhode Island—and the District of Columbia authorize the direct shipment of all spirits as specified. Eight states allow the direct shipment of beer and wine as specified: Delaware, Massachusetts, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Virginia.
Most states currently require beer to be sold through their three-tier marketplaces, with some exceptions for taproom sales and local deliveries. However, DtC wine shipping was already widely liberalized. The industry and state regulators have worked out a sort of general compromise, wherein wine shippers agree to be licensed and accede to the jurisdiction of the states to which they ship. Only three states, namely Arkansas, Mississippi and Utah totally forbid direct shipping of both wine and beer.
Additionally, the survey found that more than 7 in 10 (73%) regular craft beer drinkers - defined as those who drink craft beer at least once per month - 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 USD 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.
- An overwhelming majority of regular craft beer drinkers (84%) say they want to be able to legally purchase beer via direct-to-consumer shipping to their home — a practice currently allowed for consumer purchases from most domestic brewers in just 13 U.S. states.
- The same proportion (84%) say that current beer shipping laws in the U.S. should be updated to make it legal to ship beer direct-to-consumer in more states than the 13 U.S. states in which it is currently legal.
- 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.
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.”
Technology companies like Amazon and Uber but also established brewing companies have discovered the trend for home delivery of beer, wine and other drinks. Last month, Uber Technologies announced to acquire Drizly, the leading on-demand alcohol marketplace in the United States, available and designed to be fully compliant with local regulations in more than 1,400 cities across a majority of US states for approximately USD 1.1 billion in stock and cash. (inside.beer, 2.2.2021)
Already in November, Radeberger Gruppe Germany’s leading brewing group owned by privately owned Oetker Group, paid EUR 1 billion (USD 1.17bn) to buy Flaschenpost a four year old startup company involved in the home delivery service for beverages in Germany which will be merged with its own service Durstexpress. (inside.beer, 1.11.2020)
Last but not least, Kirin Brewery from Japan announced yesterday to expand its home-delivery beer subscription service nationwide which uses a similar draught beer system as already introduced by Heineken, AB InBev and Carlsberg. (inside.beer, 8.3.2021)
*Consumer Survey Methodology
The survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Sovos ShipCompliant from January 11-13, 2021 among 1,869 U.S. adults ages 21 and older, among whom 568 drink craft beer at least once per month. The online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.