Consumer behavior is different in every market, brand strategies must be too

In Distillery by John Temple

People have been drinking alcohol for millennia, yet no two cultures do it quite the same way. Different cities have different preferences for what and how they imbibe, and beer, wine, and spirits manufacturers market to each audience differently. We took a look at several Drizly markets to understand how consumers drink differently across geographies. With more than a million items in inventory in Drizly partner stores across this selection of markets, here is how cities drink differently.

While wine is the largest category on Drizly overall, that is not true in all cities. In places like Austin, Seattle, and Tampa Bay, liquor outsells wine. Meanwhile, Boston and Denver are particularly strong markets for the beer category, which should not surprise readers given the local beer phenomenon in these two markets.

Digging down a level deeper into each category, we see the most variance in how cities drink when it comes to beer. Within the beer category, Texans in Dallas and Houston skew towards lagers, while those in Seattle and Chicago favor IPAs and other ales. Though less pronounced, we see differences in wine, as well, as the major metropolitan cities of New York City and Los Angeles over-index on Rosé wine. Red wine is relatively consistent across markets, but white wine peaks at 39% in Dallas, compared to its low point of 27% in Seattle. Finally, within liquor, we see vodka and whiskey fight for the leading spot in different markets, with vodka particularly strong in Texas and Florida, though whiskey wins overall.

Down to the brand level, there are a few key winners across markets for beer, wine, and liquor. Bud Light is the top selling beer in two thirds of the considered markets, though Miller Lite and Coors Light also make appearances. Rainier, owned by Pabst, is the beer of choice in Seattle. Within wine, we see a mix of Bota Box and Veuve Clicquot, with Bota Box performing well in the midwest and Veuve Clicquot doing better on the coasts. Tito’s is the top liquor brand in all of these markets except Seattle, where Bulleit leads.

The cost of living and tax policies vary across the country and along with them, so does the price of alcohol. Unsurprisingly, New York and Los Angeles are at the high end of the spectrum, with New York City claiming the highest price for a 750ml bottle of liquor, and Los Angeles with the highest price of wine. Meanwhile, Florida and Colorado have more modest prices across categories.

In terms of the total basket size, comprising not only price of items but also category mix and number of items, Seattle is a clear leader. This occurs partially because Seattle has a disproportionate share of corporate orders where order totals are typically higher. Florida and Colorado again exist on the lower end, partially driven by their lower average price per item.

Most consumers place their orders between 5pm and 7pm. There are markets like Seattle, however, that are heavily corporate, skewing order times a bit earlier. Consumers in New York and Chicago order on the later side, though it seems everything happens later in these urban centers.

Similarly, we see variation in the days of the week when consumers order depending on their city. Houston and its neighboring cities order earliest in the week, aided by the fact that there are no alcohol sales allowed in Texas on Sundays. On the other end of the spectrum, Washington, D.C. is the most weekend-focused, with 54% of its orders occurring on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

Finally, looking at the consumers using Drizly, we see modest variation in average ages across geographies. Drizly consumers in the Northeast skew slightly younger relative to the slightly older demographic outside of New England.

Consumers clearly are not the same and vary drastically in preferences and habits, not only by geography, but also by demographics, psychographics, and more. Today, brands market themselves in varying fashions from broad TV advertisements to more local brand appeals. However, as the world of alcohol eCommerce continues to grow, there will be an increasing amount of data to leverage in order to create more informed marketing campaigns that speak to each consumer in the most compelling way possible.

Curious about which consumers and markets your brand resonates most with? Leave us a note.