While the three-tier distribution system does not allow retailers and customers to make direct purchases from brewers, these brewers recognize that many customers want to make purchases via e-commerce platforms. One way that brewers are meeting this need is by investing in online channels for branded merchandise, the goal of which is to reach the audience on an e-commerce platform where they feel more at ease.
AB InBev has heavily invested in e-commerce by focusing on diverse products such as apparel, collectibles, BBQ sauces, and golf merchandise. MillerCoors has a brand page that takes customers to individual brand’s pages for consumer goods like clothing, signs, sporting goods, and pet merchandise. Constellation brands offer a wide variety of merchandise on their various brands’ web stores, including barware, coolers, and novelty products. Boston Beer also offers products like ornaments, hats, art, and seasonal items. The current trend in e-commerce for brewers clearly points towards providing customers with an online portal to purchase merchandise.
Having a presence in their customers’ everyday lives gives brewers the added exposure that they need to earn new business and grow their current following. By reaching a larger audience through online sales, these brewers are creating additional revenue, as well as gathering large amounts of customer data to analyze. While the e-commerce merchandise revenue is minimal in comparison to their beer revenue, the true value of these sales is in the data that brewers collect about their customers.
With each site visit and purchase, e-commerce sites gather more and more data, leading brewers to better understand their target audiences. These data and analytics will help them recommend additional products to customers within the purchasing process, and then in the future create better marketing campaigns and target their product innovation toward these curated audiences.