While the closure of the hospitality sector due to the pandemic resulted in a decline in overall alcohol consumption in 2020 in Ireland (with Revenue clearance data indicating a fall of 4.5% between January and September 2020 compared to the same period in 2019), Drinks Ireland said it’s important to protect consumers that are buying alcohol online.
The rise in at-home drinking as a result of the Covid-19 Lockdowns has forced many brand-owners to shift channel investment into e-commerce by necessity according to the IWSR in a recent statement on the five key trends that will shape the global alcohol market in 2021.
A range of Irish-based drinks producers are among the 12 leading global beer, wine and spirits producers and 12 prominent global and regional online retailers, e-commerce and delivery platforms to form this global alliance to implement industry standards for the sale of alcohol online.
It was established through the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking of which Drinks Ireland is a member. IARD is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to reducing harmful drinking and promoting understanding of responsible drinking.
The new alliance will develop global standards of responsibility that:
- enhance safeguards and security measures so minors are unable to buy alcohol online
- put in place mechanisms to prevent beer, wine and spirits being delivered to minors or to individuals showing visible signs of intoxication
- promote global standards as a resource to support the development of national in-country codes and practices for the online sale and delivery of alcohol, which build on local and national regulation.
The new initiative is supported by the leading global beer, wine and spirits producers who’ve come together for a common purpose: to be part of the solution in combatting harmful drinking. To advance this shared mission, IARD works and partners with public sector, civil society and private stakeholders.
In Ireland, the new alliance aims to prevent the online sale and delivery of alcohol to minors and to reduce harmful drinking among adults.
“The rise of e-commerce offers opportunities for Irish producers to break into new markets and reach new consumer segments,” said Drinks Ireland Director Patricia Callan, “But Irish producers are committed to doing this in a responsible manner and are delighted to join this global collaboration between drinks companies and e-commerce platforms which is the first of its kind.
“Irish drinks producers are responsible players, with stringent measures already in place to regulate the sale and marketing of alcohol in Ireland. The new alliance will develop standards, which will further protect consumers.”
At-home consumption – the new drinking occasion
According to IWSR data the value of the e-commerce market in 10 core countries grew by an estimated 40% last year. Consumers have now become increasingly comfortable with purchasing alcohol online; in the US, for example, 44% of alcohol e-shoppers only started buying alcohol online in 2020 compared to 19% in 2019.
Such channel shifts will continue to evolve in 2021 and e-commerce will remain a critical investment. This will require a nuanced strategy that’s coordinated globally but deployed locally, taking local laws into consideration, believes IWSR.
As at-home consumption increasingly becomes an occasion in itself, brand-owners will need to re-evaluate their balance of investments between bricks-and-mortar and on-premise channel splits, believes IWSR which adds that plans will need to be adapted to take into account a smaller on-trade sector, especially important for product activation strategies.