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.
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.
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.
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.
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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Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces.
Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.
So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.
Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products.
An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.
An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.
Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.
At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services.
It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.
It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.
The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.
Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces.
With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.
Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.
If you’re interested in expanding your brand internationally, you’re probably familiar with Tmall. Tmall is Asia-Pacific’s (APAC) largest marketplace, and indisputably the biggest ecommerce powerhouse in the world. It represents a huge opportunity for many brands, but entering the space is also a big challenge to take on.
At Pattern, we recommend brands looking to enter international markets should first focus on dialing in their domestic presence. Once you’re satisfied that your brand is well-represented and optimized locally, you’re ready to think about tackling new regions, like APAC, and launching on marketplaces like Tmall. Our top advice for entering Tmall is to understand and strategize around its three most important metrics: service, delivery, and content.
Service, delivery, and content ratings are the three elements that make up Tmall’s Detailed Seller Rating (DSR) score. Each component is scored on a scale of 1-5 that is displayed publicly on your brand’s Tmall flagship store page. This is meant to help consumers decide whether or not to purchase your products.
DSR scores are important because they’re highly influential in driving conversions—customers see DSRs as a way to quickly understand if a brand is trustworthy and worth buying from. They also matter quite a bit to Tmall itself—they monitor these scores and will take action to close flagship stores with low scores.
Let’s go over each element of the DSR score and some steps you’ll need to take to achieve high ratings.
Service is a huge ecommerce component in APAC marketplaces. In most other regions, product listings are static, and consumers use content and reviews to make a decision about what to purchase. On Tmall, consumers want to interact with your brand and test its validity before buying—each transaction takes at least one human interaction to convert.
So, to get a great service rating, you’ll need to have a large, established customer service team dedicated to Tmall sales that can offer real, human touchpoints and very fast response times. To get an idea of the speed your agents should be capable of producing, in our Tmall benchmarking exercise, 92.5% of brands’ customer service agents replied to queries via live chat within 30 seconds, 5% replied within one minute and the remaining 2.5% of brands took longer than a minute. So, look for a Trade Partner (TP) that has enough resources to compete with those numbers, support your sales, and maintain a good DSR score.
Another thing you’ll really want to focus on is a high-quality delivery experience for consumers. As in other regions around the world, Tmall consumers have high expectations for their delivery experience. In our Chinese consumer polling report that targeted consumers buying from Tmall Global, we found that 6% expected same-day delivery, 15% expected next-day delivery, and 46% expected 2-5 day delivery.They want to receive their products fast and they want the products to be undamaged and pristine upon arrival.
So, to achieve a high score for your delivery capabilities, we highly recommend partnering with a TP or ecommerce accelerator like Pattern (which serves as a TP) who has the ability to facilitate your distribution. Make sure your TP has the right infrastructure in place to support high-quality logistics experiences for all of your consumers—they should have an established, well-oiled delivery process in place and the capability to fluidly add you to their current fulfillment system.
As in every digital marketplace, content is a huge component of the decision-making process for consumers on Tmall—they can’t touch your product with their hands or see it in person before buying, so it’s important they’re empowered to make a good decision on whether or not to purchase based on the videos, images, and copy.
The goal is to make all of the content and relevant information on your flagship site easily-accessible—consumers should be able to visit your page and make a decision about whether or not to buy without navigating to a new site/page and taking their conversions with them. Images with text and extensive product details are a great way to do this, as well as making sure your service team can speak to all aspects of your product with any consumers (via text or chat).
As the world’s foremost brand partner for ecommerce acceleration, Pattern truly understands the significance of international expansion. With regional offices around the world, Pattern knows how to successfully launch and grow brands on Tmall and other marketplaces, with the data, insights, and marketplace intelligence to build the metrics that matter.
It’s important to have a fantastic brand presence, a knowledgeable guide, and a clear go-forward strategy for your best chance at success. With our in-country resources, expert teams, and extensive experience in growing brands around the globe, Pattern can help you get there.
Set up a call to get your international expansion strategy in motion.