Article contributed by Michael Schatzberg
With football season in full effect, home is where the tailgate is for many sports fans ordering up food, drinks and spirits on-demand for game day spreads.
The “homegating” trend of 2020 where consumers opted to tailgate from home during football season during the pandemic has continued into 2021 as consumers have become accustomed to and enjoy direct-to-consumer food and beverage options to celebrate at home.
Whether it’s craft beer, ingredients to shake up a cocktail, snacks or gameday meals, hospitality brands are crafting business models to accommodate at-home consumers. Direct-to-consumer spirit consumption was up 2% last year, the biggest increase since 1990 amid closures of bars and restaurants during the pandemic, according to a report from drinks market analysis firm IWSR, which reported consumer orderings at home was motivated by the convenience factor. And trends like at-home bartending are here to stay as more imbibers become more confident in their cocktail-making skills sharpened last year during stay-at-home orders.
Beverages, spirits and canned cocktails driving DTC category
Spirits and beer brands are focused on selling their beverage products in an on-demand ordering capacity. Take TapRm, a virtual taproom showcasing hyper-local beers from IPAs, sours and stouts to canned cocktails and hard seltzer. TapRm brings beer and hard seltzer brands from across the nation right to your door. All beverages are categorized by preference like gluten-free and staff picks for curated flavors and new products. Canned cocktails and spiked seltzer will likely continue to drive home revenue this fall, particularly with consumers imbibing at home during football season. Ready-to-drink cocktails up to 62.3% by volume last year, while hard seltzers, were up 130%, IWSR reported.
The Distilled Spirits Council said U.S. sales rose 7.7% to $31.2 billion while volumes were up 5.3%, Reuters reported. And a large portion of that came from online ordering through apps and on-demand drinks delivery services.
Spirits Network is another example of a shoppable entertainment network dedicated to helping you drink better at home. Their hours of content and original programming gives customers the insight, background and advice they need to discover incredible spirits within an easy to use platform that lets users order anything they see directly from the screen. No need to go to the store, or even go reaching for a new device. With Spirits Network, you can discover a bottle and have it delivered right to your door without ever leaving your couch.
Drizly, which sells beer, wine and spirits online and delivers straight to consumers’ doors in under an hour, saw so much demand in the past year, it nearly doubled its number of online retailers. And tech enabling e-commerce expansion in the food and beverage space will continue to be in demand this season, experts suggest.
Delivery app DoorDash is the latest to announce it will now allow customers to order up wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages to customers with the service available in 20 states to reach 100 million consumers worldwide, the company said on Monday. The third-party food delivery service said 56% of its customers 21 and older said they would like to order booze with their meals if they had the option, according to data from the National Restaurant Association as reported by CNET.com. Customers will be able to browse the app’s alcohol tab for a selection of to-go drinks from grocery stores, local retailers, convenience stores, and restaurants in permitted markets. And delivery competitor Grubhub also offers alcohol delivery from restaurants in 10 select markets.
And beverage suppliers and distributors have also been embracing tech for online sales. Startups like LibDib, an e-commerce wholesale platform, have a database of more than 10,000 products working with emerging and innovative brands in need of distribution so consumers can get craft beer and spirits they may not have access to in local stores. Similarly, SevenFifty, built a technology database allowing it to communicate with local suppliers and sellers and to improve direct-to-consumer buying experiences.
Subscription meal services
Big brands are also investing in bringing direct-to-consumer channels for food and drinks. PepsiCo last May launched PantryShop.com and Snacks.com, two direct-to-consumer websites where eaters can browse through an assortment of PepsiCo branded food and drinks — like Doritos and Cheetos or Pepsi and Mountain Dew, among other items with categories designated specifically for buying snacks in bundles for at-home gatherings.
Restaurants are also experimenting with subscription models, allowing eaters to order their favorite meals at home. Taco Bell recently announced customers at participating restaurants across Tucson, Arizona can pay between $5 to $10 monthly for a “Taco Lover’s Pass,” or one taco a day for 30 days via its app. The subscription will include a number of taco options, making for easy ordering. Buffalo Wild Wings, meanwhile, brought back its subscription program at the start of football season this month offering $99 passes for 10 boneless or regular chicken wings per week during the NFL calendar. And Dickey’s has brought back their Tailgate Meat Delivery Box, which is part of their Barbecue at home program. Direct-to-consumer ordering and subscription services can also be a smart move for small companies that are lacking traffic in brick-and-mortar stores.
Now more than ever, hospitality brands are finding ways to leverage tech to tap into consumer preferences, new tastes and flavors — whether it’s food on demand for the big game or curating more customized beverage orders from local breweries or distilleries to enjoy at home.
Michael “Schatzy” Schatzberg is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Branded Strategic Hospitality and the Managing Director for Branded Restaurants. He has over 35 years of marketing, brand development, management, business development and hospitality experience. Schatzberg started working at Duke’s in 1995. He went on to turn a single concept restaurant into a multi-unit Hospitality Group -opening a second Duke’s location in Manhattan, and re-branding Big Daddy’s from a 1969 soda shop into a twist on the classic American diner. Schatzberg has developed, grown, and managed 6 hospitality concepts and advises over 22 restaurants in NYC. He is a founding member of the NYC Hospitality Alliance and Member of the New York State Restaurant Association.
After being an early adopter to Hospitality Technology within his concepts and serving as an advisor for many start-up HI-Tech companies, Schatzberg founded Branded Strategic Hospitality, an investment & advisory company, that leverages its ecosystem of hospitality venues, expertise, and deep relationships to influence, redefine and evolve hospitality technology (“HI-Tech”) and Food & Beverage innovation. To date, the company has made 21 direct investments.