Drinks firms could be making more of the rise in online grocery sales

Drinks firms could be making more of the rise in online grocery sales

Drinks brands are “lagging” behind in the UK's surge in internet grocery shopping and should up their focus on exclusive web-only premium products, according to an industry expert. 

Around 30% of UK shoppers now buy groceries online, but only 4% purchase beer, wines and spirits through websites, according to distributor First Drinks, which published its annual market report yesterday (18 July). The area remains an “opportunity for growth” for brand owners and retailers, the report says. 

Speaking to just-drinks, First Drinks' head of category management, Roy Summers said companies are extending their range they offer exclusively online, particularly in the premium segment.

“That's an interesting trend,” he said. “But it's incumbent on brand owners to make that a more interesting experience if consumers are buying premium brands online. So they need to offer more information (about the brand), its heritage, how to drink it.”  

The report also revealed that the UK on-trade spirits market is growing ahead of the off-trade in terms of value. On-trade spirits sales in the year to April 2013 are up 8% to GBP5bn, while off-trade spirits sales rose 4% to GBP3.6bn. 

Summers flagged that every spirits sub-category in the on-trade has benefited from the premiumisation trend. Premium gin's sales by value have risen by 29% year-on-year, while volumes are up by 19%. However, gin as a category still only accounts for 9% of spirits sales in the UK on-trade. 

A report from research group CGA last month predicted that the number of UK on-trade outlets will shrink by 6% in the next five years, while premium-style venues will benefit.