International alcohol companies taking control of their own supply chains to sell direct to consumers, says GlobalData

In late-September, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s ZX Ventures incubator division set up Beer Hawk Fresh, a concept set to distribute cold-chain beer in kegs, cans and bottles to London-based accounts on the same day they are ordered. A-B InBev-owned Goose Island, Camden Town and Birra del Borgo, as well as brands from Kirin’s Australian brewery, Little Creatures, London-based Fourpure and Huddersfield-based Magic Rock are also on the Beer Hawk Fresh menu.

The move is part of an emerging trend of international alcohol companies taking more of an interest in controlling their own supply chain, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Andy Morton, Beverage Analyst at GlobalData, comments: ‘‘Previously content to allow third-party distributors to handle logistics, companies including ZX Venture-owner Anheuser-Busch InBev and Pernod Ricard are zeroing in on route-to-market’’.

Beer Hawk Fresh is operated by Beer Hawk, the UK online beer shop bought by ZX Ventures in 2016. In the past few years, ZX Ventures has bought not only Beer Hawk but subscription service Beer Bods, e-commerce retailer Master of Malt (through the Atom Group acquisition) and continental European beer-delivery service Hopt. In the past few months, Pernod has bought two e-commerce platforms in Spain and a third that serves Africa.

Morton continues: ‘‘It is no coincidence that these purchases are all direct-to-consumer. Digital has given companies a new way to connect with their audience and increase brand loyalty.’’

Behind all of this is a more powerful motivation – data. When a company sells direct, the information coming the other way can prove invaluable in reaching more consumers, and keeping the ones it already has.

Morton adds: ‘‘In A-B InBev and Pernod’s ideal world, consumers would buy everything from one in-house centralised hub, negating the need for third-party distributors. Until that day comes, they will continue to buy regional direct-sales companies’’.

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