Study: One Out of Two Beer Shoppers Use a Mobile Device at the Shelf


Dear Client:

MichaelAaron Flicker started creative consultancy XenoPsi in 1997 while in high school. Today it serves several Fortune 500 firms and also conducts work in the spirits industry (representing Heaven Hill Distillery for instance). But last week they dipped their toe into the beer industry by commissioning a research report which takes a dive into how people -- particularly young people -- choose beer brands at the point of purchase.

Traditionally, we've held that highest influencing factors when choosing beer at the shelf or at the bar were: suggestion of a friend, price, signage, displays, shelf space and position, POS materials, remembering and identifying with the brand's marketing, etc. Those factors are still important, but not much has been written about how the smartphone has entered the equation as a tremendous influencer on young people when choosing a beer brand, particularly when trying a new brand.

"We were looking at some of the trends in the spirits business," MichaelAaron told BBD, "and we were trying to go beyond the traditional things that are being done. We had a hypothesis that smartphones have more of an effect on purchase behavior than previously thought, so we decided to test the hypothesis."

The topline take-away: "Our new nationwide study has found that the internet - specifically learning about products online - has almost doubled in importance over the last few years. Today, it is now the fourth most important factor affecting purchase at the shelf", behind reco's from friends, price, and promo-deal at the store.

ENTER THE MOBILE PHONE. And how do they learn about a product? On their phones of course. An astounding one out of two shoppers use a smartphone at the shelf when shopping for beer. And of those using their phones, 26% are more likely to buy beer weekly, they are 10 times more likely to purchase a new beer brand every time they shop, they spend 59% more time at the shelf making a decision, and they are 2.5 times more likely to buy more beer than they typically would, compared to non-phone users.

MEGA-BUYERS. In addition, they buy more beer, more frequently. They are 26% more likely to purchase beer weekly than non-phone users, and 50% more likely to purchase beer every day. And they're more likely to try new brands or styles: Of those using a smartphone, 26% most often or always chose a beer they've never tried before, compared to only 7% of those that don't use their smartphone device.

And of course, they are younger. 60% of people who use smartphones at the shelf are under 35.

SEARCH ENGINE / SOCIAL MEDIA: 71% are using a search engine to learn about brands. Though younger millennials are more likely to use social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Bottom line: Optimizing your web presence for mobile devices and having a solid social media strategy are now table stakes for driving business these days at the shelf.

Link to full report here:


Meet Smirnoff Ice electrolyte - er, "Electric": a new 5% ABV, non-carbonated product in Blue and Mandarin flavors (with colors to match). It's "smooth." It comes in a reclosable 16 oz. PET bottle. It's inspired from Smirnoff's insights from EDM ("Electronic Dance Music") concertgoers, who want to stay active on the dance floor without spilling their drink.

And for all intents and purposes, it's an alcoholic sports drink. At least, that's exactly how it came off to our anecdotal panel of family and friends, though I doubt Diageo spins it that way.

Indeed, that's likely the unspoken point. Orange is one of Gatorade's top two flavors (besides Lemon Lime). Electric's flavor is reminiscent, too, of that sort of salty-savory backnote you taste in a Powerade (here courtesy of "hint of essence of coconut water"). And the packaging - well, take a look for yourself. It's part of a new category: Functional Alcoholic Beverage, FAB. We're coining it.

Heather Boyd, Brand Director, Flavored Malt Beverages, Diageo-Guinness USA , talked about "refreshment" and utilitarian need states in introducing the brand to BBD.

It's hitting in 4-packs, primarily in grocery (though of course retailers can break them apart into singles for all channels). "Grocery is the first place you'll be seeing distribution. It's already showing up in national accounts," she said.

They're sampling it heavily. You may see it in the likes of stadiums and Vegas pools, too, to start in the on-premise.

"This is incredibly unique to segment," Heather told us. Almost 80% of people in their testing said it's unlike anything else they'e seen in FMBS.

When we asked its closest potential competitor, Heather answered: "Good question. People do perceive it as very different from anything else they see in the segment. We're hoping it recruits Millennials into the beer aisle."

People ask, "'Where do we take this, how do we drink it? ... What's the appropriate place for it?' … as well as what the benefits are. Because it is a new-to-world product that may establish new behaviors," she said.

To answer such questions, they've hatched a dance-themed campaign featuring TV with 72andSunny (also Coors's new agency). Some spots feature 87-year-old social media sensation Baddie Winkle dancing around in spandex among drinkers several generations her junior (with witty puns about, you know, not slowing down). Others feature deaf dance instructor Chris Fonseca.

You'll see them hit in about two weeks on shows like Lip Sync Battle. About 40% of their media spend on this product will be dedicated to responsible drinking messaging (up from DGUSA's regular average of 20%). There's also a digital component, featuring Facebook, instagram and more, as well as "place-based mobile" featuring push notifications at the point of purchase (festival, retail, etc.).

To that point, many asked how such a product could be legal. On that issue, many producers seem to display all the cavalier concern of Blentec when it wonders, "will it blend?" But if hard sodas are legal, why not hard sports drinks?

"With lines blurring" the team said, "we want to be responsible." There are more than a few "21+" disclaimers on both the product packaging and the bottle itself. Since they're "pretty confident this is going to be a success," with copycat products to follow, they wanted to set the trend of being "responsible" as well.

Existing brands in this category "aren't always clear on this," they believe.

OUR TAKE: You may have read about Boston's new "Truly Spiked Seltzer" product in CBD. The increasing popularity of "functional" nonalcoholic beverages like tea, specialty waters and the like are clearly crossing over into the bev alc space, for the dawn of what, again, one could call the functional alcoholic beverages movement. More to come.


While many distributors retire at the beach when they cash out, former execs at Tuscon's Golden Eagle Distributors, Kimberly Clements (President) and Daniel Lust (VP Sales & Marketing) are keeping their hands in the game. They announced today that they have formed a partnership to launch PINTS LLC (, a "business consulting venture developed to serve craft brewers and wholesalers across the country," says Kimberly.

PINTS is an acronym, of course, (Partners Invested in Transformational Solutions), and "is based on the vision of providing objective business planning and strategic growth solutions for the beverage industry, primarily tailored to the craft beer segment with an emphasis on branding and marketing strategies, growth planning and development and succession planning." Good luck to theme both.
Until tomorrow, Harry

"A pint of sweat saves a gallon of blood."
- General George S. Patton

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