Analysis: The Resurgence of Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Pattern Data Science

December 20, 2021

To say that the past year and a half have been stressful times would be an understatement. And while many people dealt with that stress by picking up a new hobby or trying to bake the perfect loaf of sourdough, many Americans turned to another method to take the edge off: drinking.

According to a 2020 study, overall frequency of alcohol consumption increased by about 14% from 2019 to 2020. Survey respondents in that survey reported drinking alcohol on more days of every week as well as increases in the number of drinks they had.

With the new year approaching, there’s no doubt that many Americans have “cut back on drinking” high on their resolutions for 2022, especially after what the last two years have looked like. So we wanted to learn more about the potential long-term impact of COVID-19 on our drinking habits and how things are trending heading into the new year.

Are Americans feeling more inspired to sober up after a couple years of stress drinking? Or are we drinking more than ever before? Or are we seeing a rise in non-alcoholic beverages and “mocktails” this year?

We dove deep into our data to see if we could uncover any insight into how COVID-19 may have impacted America’s drinking habits, how 2021 looked, and what that might mean for 2022.

How did COVID-19 impact online demand for Non-Alcoholic Beverages?

As you can imagine, analyzing online demand on Amazon presents some challenges when it comes to trying to learn more about America’s drinking habits. While online shopping grew significantly during the pandemic, alcohol remains a regulated substance, so the local grocery store or liquor store are still where the vast majority of Americans get their booze.

That doesn’t leave us without any options, of course. One of the first things we wanted to examine was sales for non-alcoholic beverages (which you can, of course, buy online).

First things first, let’s look at weekly demand since January 2020 for non-alcoholic beverages like non-alcoholic beer and the ever-growing selection of alcohol-free mocktail base beverages.

As you might expect, the New Year represents a major high point for demand for non-alcoholic beverages. January 2020 was the high point of that year, with demand settling into consistent levels through the earliest weeks of the pandemic and well into the summer and fall.

Demand for non-alcoholic beverages began to climb the week of Dec 13th and then absolutely skyrocketed on the last week of the year. Demand then remained high throughout January 2021, dwarfing New Year’s 2020, which suggests there were a lot more people interested in alcohol free alternatives after the first year of COVID.

A year-over-year comparison of monthly demand reinforces this theory:

Again, we see January and December being high points for both 2019 and 2020, with non-alcoholic beverages growing somewhat in popularity between both years.

2021, though, has consistently outperformed both previous years. Interestingly, though, we saw demand dip slightly between October and November this year. It’s too early to tell if this is a sign of a broader slowdown in demand, or a simple anomaly, but we will be keeping a closer eye on this over the coming weeks.

Finally, let’s dig a little deeper and compare non-alcoholic beer, non-alcoholic spirits, and general searches for “non-alcoholic” items. Here’s how weekly demand for each changed from 2020 through 2021 so far:

Non-alcoholic beer actually did see a pretty significant surge in the weeks immediately following lockdown, and otherwise has experienced fairly inconsistent shifts in demand from week to week. This is the category that has been trending downward the most as we enter the holiday season, which is something to keep an eye on.

Demand for non-alcoholic spirits and general “non-alcoholic” searches both followed similar trends, peaking in January, and remaining consistently higher in 2021 compared to 2020.

Each of the charts above offers strong early evidence that there may be a growing segment of consumers who may be looking for some sober options after overindulging a bit while spending much of 2020 isolating at home.

Has demand for alcoholic drinks remained high through 2021 so far?

There’s clear evidence that online demand for non-alcoholic beverages is at an all-time high, but what about alcoholic beverages? Is demand for the strong stuff falling as demand for its counterpart goes up?

Again, this can be a bit hard for us to uncover, as Americans are unable to purchase alcoholic beverages on Amazon. A possible surrogate that people do love to shop for online, though, is barware and glassware.

When we examine weekly demand, we see a much more immediate impact in the early days of the pandemic. The first weeks of shutdowns actually saw demand for glassware and barware dip somewhat, an effect that was only temporary.

Demand very quickly rebounded and shot to a high point not matched until the Holiday shopping rush, which was tremendous. 2021, meanwhile, has been remarkably consistent throughout the year. What remains to be seen is whether this holiday season will match last year’s heights.

Our year-over-year view further supports this notion. May of 2020 saw unseasonably high demand, as millions of Americans got their home bar situation all set up in the face of closed bars and shelter in place orders.

Demand in early 2021 was ahead of 2020’s pre-pandemic levels, fell behind May’s surge, and has trended pretty close to 2020 levels in the months since.

Here’s a closer look at the change in weekly demand for different types of glassware:

Martini glasses experienced the quickest rebound following the initial lockdown dip, while margarita glasses experienced the most significant early rebound (during the week of Cinco de Mayo, of course).

The peak season for glassware is during the holidays, with demand increasing by 80% to over 100% during December for each type of glassware except for margarita glasses.

Again, 2021 appears to be strikingly similar to 2020 so far. Margarita glasses enjoyed another strong Cinco de Mayo, but most other types of glassware saw demand hover right around 2020’s levels for much of the year.

Martini glasses have seen the largest early holiday shopping surge, with wine glasses and shot glasses not far behind. Pint and pilsner glasses, meanwhile, have yet to see a holiday surge in our analysis as of the last week of November.

Of course, that doesn’t mean for certain that Americans are cutting back on purchasing alcohol. It could be that everyone got their home-bar situated last year and simply don’t need to restock.

However, it is at least some evidence that points toward demand for booze softening somewhat in the wake of last year’s binge.

Online demand in 2021: Non-alcoholic beverages vs. glassware and barware

Let’s close with one last, simple look at 2021 so far. We took online demand for each type of non-alcoholic beverage and item of glassware and barware from January 2021 through July 2021 and compared it to the same period in 2020.

Here’s what we found.

Again, 2021 so far has been huge for non-alcoholic beer, spirits, and non-alcoholic items as a whole.

Just “non-alcoholic” as a broad term has experienced the biggest increase, as demand in 2021 has been up by 52% compared to 2020. Non-alcoholic spirits, meanwhile, has seen demand up by 51%, while demand for non-alcoholic beer is up 34%.

Interestingly, shot glasses have had the next strongest 2021 so far, with demand up 22% vs. 2020. In fact, the glass and barware most associated with the strong stuff have been the ones who have had the largest 2021. Wine glasses and pint glasses, meanwhile, have actually seen demand slow down in 2021.

Again, we hesitate to declare in certain terms that demand for alcoholic beverages is slowing down in 2021, especially until after we’ve been able to fully analyze data from the holiday surge. However, we are seeing clear evidence that demand for non-alcoholic beverages is way up.

A lesson for brands

Our data shows that non-alcoholic beverages are more popular than ever. While the pandemic initially had little impact on booze-free substitutes, it’s clear that more and more people are looking in that direction now that things have begun to reopen.

The pandemic did have a clear and immediate impact on home bar supplies, which supports other studies that suggested last year was an unusually heavy drinking year for millions of Americans.

Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how to forecast demand for their products on online marketplaces, and even inform product design and marketing strategy.

For example, we may see non-alcoholic drinks continue to grow in popularity as more and more as 2021 draws to a close and people start looking toward 2022. However, with the uncertainty surrounding the Omicron variant as the holiday break approaches, we may see another run on home-bar equipment and a subsequent dip in demand for non-alcoholic drinks.

Either way, we’ll be keeping a close eye on these trends and more in the coming weeks and months.

To stay up to date on consumer behavior and ecommerce news, info, and trend analyses, be sure to subscribe to Pattern Insights on the right.

And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, get in touch today.

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MAP Pricing vs MSRP: What's the Difference? (blog header)
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MAP Pricing vs. MSRP: What's the Difference?

“MAP” and “MSRP” are two of hundreds of acronyms floating around in the world of ecommerce, and they’re two of the easiest to confuse and misunderstand. While MAP and MSRP do play similar roles, they also have key differences that can work in tandem to support and protect your brand on marketplaces.

So what are MAP and MSRP and why do they matter? Here’s what you should know: 

What is MAP?

MAP (or minimum advertised price) is the minimum amount that a manufacturer or wholesaler recommends resellers advertise their products for. MAP pricing policy is essentially a one-way boundary you set to protect your brand, protect the margins of your resellers, and maintain fair competition across all of your distribution channels.

When setting a MAP policy strategy, remember the important things you’ll want your MAP policy to do are:

  1. Protect the interests of your brick-and-mortar resellers, giving them the margins they need to display and carry your product as well as sell it.

  2. Stay small enough that it discourages resellers from heavily discounting your products and keeps competition fair.

  3. Accurately reflects on the brand image and value you want to reflect.

“Advertising” and “recommends” are the key terms here. MAP policies should only recommend the price that is advertised online or in-store for a product, not attempt to fix the actual selling price of the product—that’s illegal—or recommend the actual selling price. That’s MSRP’s job.

Benefits of MAP

MAP not only keeps competition fair, but allows you to control your brand identity and promote consumer trust of your product and brand. Here are some of the benefits of having MAP policies:

  • Better brand protection and control

  • Creates a level playing field for retailers

  • Reduces bad customer experiences

  • Provides an accurate performance analysis

How Can Brands Effectively Enforce MAP?

It’s critical that MAP policies are structured in such a way that a brand avoids violating anti-trust laws. One way brands can effectively enforce MAP is by simply monitoring online product prices across digital channels to identify fluctuations in the market. 

At Pattern, we help brands not only develop a MAP policy, but also enforce it. Enforcing MAP policies and gaining marketplace control includes finding unauthorized sellers, which Pattern’s data finds. Once Pattern finds the unauthorized sellers, Vorys eControls (Pattern’s legal partner) steps in and handles the takedowns of unauthorized sellers, continuous enforcement of brand management, and reseller policy enforcements.

What is MSRP?

MSRP (or manufacturer’s suggested retail price) is how manufacturers standardize pricing across their resale channel and determine what price is fair for their product. The key difference between MSRP and MAP is that MSRP is the actual price manufacturers set and recommend retailers charge for their goods while MAP is the advertised price. 

MSRP doesn’t necessarily have to be the final price of a product—it’s most often a starting price—but it is determined by taking into account all of the costs associated with the distribution and manufacturing process for a product and the margin amount resellers need in order to make a profit. MSRP also establishes value. For example, if a brand wants to build a premium brand, the MSRP can reflect the actual or perceived value of their product.

Benefits of MSRP

Setting up an MSRP for your product includes the following benefits:

  • Maintains brand equity

  • Establishes brand and product value

  • Standardizes costs across marketplaces

How Can Brands Effectively Enforce MSRP?

Like MAP pricing, MSRP has to be set up as a one-way policy and not an agreement between a manufacturer and a reseller to avoid landing a manufacturer on the wrong side of the law. It’s a recommendation, not a contractual bind. As mentioned for MAP policy, Pattern helps brands effectively enforce MSRP with our proprietary data and expertise to protect their brand. 

How Do MAP and MSRP Work Together?

MAP and MSRP have different applications that may prove useful in different scenarios. For example, MAP policies are typically more useful in marketplaces where competition is fierce and price erosion happens easily if sellers are left unchecked. Ideally, however, MAP and MSRP are a dynamic duo that work together to serve the interests of your brand, support your resale channels, and protect your resellers.

Setting an MSRP establishes value for your product and lets your resellers know you’re serious about controlling channel conflict, maintaining pricing equity, and protecting their margins so they’re more confident setting pricing at the MSRP level.

MAP is the second half of setting a pricing policy. Setting a MAP price for your product, in addition to an MSRP, further standardizes pricing across your resale channel and gives legitimate resellers a fair environment to compete in while setting boundaries against unauthorized sellers harming your brand.

MAP combined with MSRP creates a stronger level of brand protection, giving your brand more sustainable, profitable growth.

Maintain Brand Control With Pattern

MAP policies can be tricky to draft, because there are so many legal lines to tiptoe around and so much nuance that goes into pricing. They can also be tricky to enforce without the right tools. At Pattern, partnered with Vorys, we have the tools and resources to help you maintain brand control on all marketplaces. 

As an ecommerce accelerator, Pattern can help you identify MAP violators and regain control of your brand online so that your image and your resellers are protected. To learn more, contact us today.

Athlon Optics Walmart.com Launch Has Record Setting Sales within 3 Days
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Athlon Optics Walmart.com Launch Has Record Setting Sales within 3 Days

Athlon Optics sells scopes and other optical accessories like binoculars for anyone who may be hunting, shooting recreationally, or competing.  After achieving significant success on Amazon, the brand wanted to launch on Walmart. As a growing marketplace with huge growth forecasts, Athlon saw their competitors already staking claim on walmart.com and saw opportunities for increasing their sales.

As a prestigious brand in its category, with loyal consumers, Athlon does so much with very few resources. With less than twenty employees in the entire company, managing everything from customer service to product development, their ecommerce team needed support to scale to a new marketplace.  And, they needed a partner who had a relationship with and deep understanding of walmart.com to accelerate their growth. Pattern is a one-stop shop for Athlon, providing the resources and expertise, so Athlon could also save budget and stop outsourcing so many different aspects of their marketplace business.

Athlon Optics Prepares for a Seamless Launch

Sometimes brands who transition from 1P to 3P with Pattern have no proprietary sales, marketplace data or content such as product images, video, or optimized copy. These circumstances create a more hands on transition for Pattern and may interfere with launch expectations. 

But Athlon was the consummate partner and overly prepared to transition to 3P– buttoned up, organized, and ready to take on walmart.com’s list of launch needs. Athlon provided all the required assets on time and was very organized.  The images were shot, formatted, and categorized as A+ content that Pattern ported over.  This process dramatically reduced wait times and lag times within the platform.  Plus, since the content was optimized for marketplaces, all images, copy, and listing information uploaded in the first pass. 

Pattern’s Walmart Expertise Leads to Success

But the content worked because of Pattern’s resources and marketplace expertise.  Pattern provided Athlon with a very clear outline of needs and expectations for seamless launch and this process has become a playbook for other brands on walmart.com.  The team’s mutual partnership and Pattern’s diligent follow up with and detailed attention to Walmart processes and logistics prevented Athlon from getting lost in the weeds. 

Three Days is All it Takes

The successful, thorough, and quick transition to 3P with Pattern secured Athlon most likely the fastest ramp-up periods for any brand on Walmart.com.  

Together we achieved success such as:

  • 'Best in class' turnaround–98% faster onboarding than average brand on Walmart.

  • First sale within the first week of landing at Walmart. 

    • Unprecedented turnaround considering the ramp up usually needed to gain momentum and traction with reviews on Walmart. 

  • Exceeded initial first month growth projection by 34%.

Athlon was so impressed by the ease and simplicity of its launch and execution on Walmart that the brand wants to grow our 3P relationship with other marketplaces such as Amazon Canada and Target+.

And, in the meantime, look out for Athlon Optics in Walmart Deal Days in 2022.  A huge win for any brand tied to organic advertising and new traffic opportunities across all media.

Pattern Helps Brands Expand Marketplaces 

Pattern has the 3P partner experience and deep expertise on Walmart and other global marketplaces to help a brand expand their footprint to maintain sales momentum and a competitive edge. Pattern, an ecommerce accelerator, takes on the responsibility of your stock and provides the expert resources needed to successfully launch and continue to grow your revenue on global marketplaces. 

Learn more about Pattern’s expertise and partnership on Walmart.  Contact us today.

Amazon A+ Content
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Amazon A+ and Premium A+ Content: Pros and Cons Brands Need to Know

Long gone are the days when Amazon listings were limited to a simple product description, five bullet points, and eight pictures. As the platform, and number of sellers, has grown, sellers have had to be more and more strategic and eye-catching to increase traffic and conversions on their listings.

Brands on Amazon have plenty of attractive options available to design their Amazon storefront, which reside in two of Amazon’s content tools: A+ Content and Premium A+ Content (or  A++ Content).

Here’s the pros and cons of brands using A+ Content vs. Premium A+ Content:

What is Amazon A+ Content?

Amazon A+ Content is a standard feature available to all Amazon Sellers and free as one of the many benefits of Amazon Brand Registry. 

With A+ Content, a product listing can have more than a plain text description and standard photo reel–it can include high quality multimedia photos and videos alongside eye-catching information to share the product story, and not just the product appearance.

Some noteworthy features that Amazon A+ offers are:

  • Multiple, varied images of a product

  • Strategically concise introduction

  • Video

  • Bullet points

  • 360° product views

  • Matrix comparison charts

  • “What’s in the box” section

What is Amazon Premium A+ Content?

Amazon Premium A+ Content, or Amazon A++ Content, is a tool that goes a level beyond basic A+ Content, giving brands the ability to showcase their product’s most important features and benefits with a modern, visually appealing structure. 

In August 2022, Amazon announced Premium A+ would be available on Seller Central for free usage during a promotional period. Previously, Premium A+ content was available only by invite for brands using Vendor Central and could cost anywhere from $250K and $500K per product. 

With Premium A+ content, a brand visually communicates using imagery and video, and relies much less on text due to strict character limits for product descriptions. According to Amazon, implementing Premium A+ content can increase your sales by 20%.

For the first time ever, Premium A+ expands the usable real estate of the page, using the entire width of the screen for a sophisticated and modern feel.

Some noteworthy features that Premium A+ offers are:

  • Video

  • Full-width imagery

  • More space

  • Clickable Q&A

  • Interactive comparison charts

  • Carousel modules

  • Mobile-friendly and voice-friendly product pages

  • Testimonials

Pros and Cons of Amazon A+ vs. Premium A+ Content

Although their purposes are similar, there are some key differences between A+ Content and Premium A+ Content. Here are the pros and cons for each tool:

Basic Amazon A+ Content

Pros:

  • Free and unlimited use for all Vendors.

  • An effective tool to enhance customer experience and product listings.

Cons:

  • Less features than Premium A+.

  • It's not as visually appealing as Premium A+.

Premium A+ Content

Pros:

  • There are 16 extra modules to choose from that are media-rich and make an impact.

  • You have two more available module slots than Basic Amazon A+.

  • Overall, there are more possibilities for hyper-engaging content.

  • You can expect a sales rate increase of up to 20% with Premium A+, according to Amazon.

Cons:

  • Amazon has positioned Premium A+ content as more of an exclusive tool, requiring eligibility based on past content to qualify for Premium A+ content. 

  • Character limit restrictions are more strict than Basic Amazon A+.

Elevate Your Amazon Content with Pattern

Ultimately, both of these tools exist to help you and your brand provide customers the best online shopping experience possible. Although Premium A+ offers plenty of exciting new options for enhancing customers’ buying experience, it may not be for everyone. Optimizing your Amazon listing with A+ or Premium A+ Content can provide the best opportunity to build a strong reputation for better brand-recognition and customer affinity. 

Our creative and digital marketing experts at Pattern can help brands use A+ Content and Premium A+ Content to increase conversions and give buyers an amazing experience.

Learn how Pattern can help you increase conversions on Amazon. Contact us