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Amazon online drinks boom sustained by ‘grey pound’

Published:  22 June, 2020

Driven by the lockdown to online purchasing, some 3.3 million UK shoppers bought drinks via Amazon for the first time, with older shoppers predicted to uphold the trend.

The figures, which cover the period to date from 23 March as the country headed into lockdown, revealed that of those 3.3 million, 2.1 million bought alcoholic drinks, such as beers, wines and spirits (BWS), with a further 1.2 million buying non-alcoholic drinks via the online giant.

Data from Molzi, an Amazon marketing agency, revealed that across all goods categories, 77% of frequent Amazon shoppers – some 15 million – used the platform to buy “a product they’d not purchased on the platform before”.

Moreover, an online survey conducted by Censuswide found that such behaviour was consistent with a general trend across all online purchasing since lockdown began.

While younger consumers have been the most active, the date suggested older people were most likely to continue driving uplift in online spend after lockdown is eased.

“The data shows that, while young people spent more during lockdown on new products than any other age group, the older generations are more likely to continue the trend,” said Chris Mole, CEO of Molzi.

“There could be a real opportunity for brands trying to tap into the grey pound.”

While many consumers said they would return to physical stores as lockdown was lifted, 97% of those surveyed also said they would continue shopping via the site for the ‘new’ products they had found on Amazon.

One of the most common pre-lockdown barriers to shopping via Amazon was people simply “not realising” that products were available on the site (24% of those surveyed), with shoppers predicted to return for categories such as BWS in the future.

As Harpers and others have reported, shoppers, including older consumers, have fast acclimatised to the ease of shopping online, and for goods that they previously bought primarily in physical stores.

Of particular note to the drinks trade’s retailers is perhaps the scale and scope of Amazon’s reach and how lockdown has further boosted its pre-eminence in the retailing world, including the growth in BWS sales.

According to the responses to a survey question asking respondents to rank the “most valuable lockdown service” since 23 March, Amazon, at 60%, ranked ahead of online food delivery (30%), streaming services like Netflix (25%), video conferencing services like Zoom (19%), and gas/electricity providers (14%).