At the first eDrinks conference, held in London last week, Datamonitor's drinks analyst Neil Broome told delegates that opportunities do exist in e-commerce for the alcohol market.
    
In the case of B2C, the multinational retailers are leading the market because the supply chain and distribution network is already in place. He doubts, however, whether manufacturers selling directly to the consumer is a viable business proposition.

"The best way for manufacturers to use the internet and e-commerce business solutions is through marketing. Relationship marketing is developing for the alcoholic drinks sector. Consumers don't need a relationship with the manufacturer so the manufacturer needs to engage with consumers," Broome said.

Creating interactive websites, partnering with major B2B dot coms and looking for ways to personalise products and information are the keys to growth. "The consumer will demand more efficiency in the supply chain but also look for opportunities to connect with brands. Promotion through new media will be one advantage," he said.

With 230m consumers online, the rewards are great and worth fighting for now. His analysis shows whisky and lager are the most attractive brands to sell online, while cider and liqueurs are very low. This is because the new generation are more interested in exploring the internet and consume lager and whisky. Liqueurs online penetration is poor in particular, as the brands are consumed by an older generation and consumption is high in western Europe, which has lower internet users.

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