The survey of 2,000 individuals, with 70% men and 30% women, was conducted across Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana and Karnataka. The respondents were those who purchased alcohol for at-home consumption.
Wider choice of products, ability to browse and explore options and prices and comparison across platforms were among reasons cited by the respondents for their online preference.
India lacks policies that permit the sale of liquor online. However, some states have allowed home delivery of alcohol after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The experience of buying alcoholic beverages also varies from state to state, from upmarket modern stores to small government-run outlets.
However, as younger consumers join the permissible drinking age group, current social mores governing the sale and purchase of liquor are likely to become outdated. Fresh policies could find favour among consumers.
The pandemic has also triggered a change in consumer behaviour, making online shopping more widely accepted across product categories.
YouGov’s survey indicates that consumer preference for online shopping could also benefit those planning to buy liquor online.
India’s market for alcoholic beverages is highly regulated as licences are required to produce, bottle, store, distribute and retail them. Also, the sale of alcohol is a state subject, and as a result, distribution is highly controlled, both at the wholesale and retail levels, according to industry reports.
Most consumers tend to procure alcohol from local outlets, an experience that most respondents said is riddled with challenges. As many as 97% of those surveyed by YouGov reported a range of challenges when buying alcohol, including the non-availability of discounts and offers followed by issues such as cramped and crowded stores, general inconvenience in terms of time and effort, and a lack of variety.
“In addition to the availability of discounts and promotional offers and access to different varieties of alcohol, consumers also place high value in the possibility of comparing prices across different online platforms,” YouGov said.
Moreover, consumers also see themselves being more adventurous when it comes to trials—58% of respondents said the availability of liquor online would prompt them to try new flavours, brands and types of alcohol.
More than half of those surveyed expect their monthly liquor spends to rise if online purchases were available. Online liquor sales will also increase sales volumes of beer and hard liquor, YouGov said.
As covid-19 shuttered liquor stores, states such as Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra permitted home deliveries. Delhi’s new liquor policy, too, has provisions to pave the way for home deliveries.
In Maharashtra, close to one in five people said home delivery has been their most-used mode to buy alcohol. Even in terms of experience, online mode outperforms other channels in Maharashtra, according to YouGov’s findings.
Evidently, local alcohol stores—the most common source for liquor now—get the lowest ratings in terms of experience across all states, suggesting the need for a change.
“The pandemic has affected how consumers buy different products. With e-commerce platforms, consumers now have a more convenient way to shop,” said Deepa Bhatia, general manager, YouGov India.
Bhatia said this could bode well for alcohol as a category. Online deliveries are set to make the booze buying experience more convenient.
“Not only do people recognize it for being a safer delivery option in the current times, but consumers also appreciate it for making the buying process more convenient and economical,” Bhatia said.