As consumer behavior around alcohol as well as online purchases continues to evolve, new opportunities for engagement are emerging across verticals. Within the alcoholic beverage category in particular, industry mainstays are increasingly looking to better connect with their customers, marshaling the direct connection and insights generation that ecommerce permits to continuously tailor their offering.
Enter Thirstie, a turnkey tech solution that helps liquor brands like Clos19 and Dom Perignon provide a seamless and curated online purchase experience that consumers have come to expect. PSFK sat down with Devaraj Southworth, CEO and co-founder of the white-label enterprise platform, for an exclusive glimpse into how enabling this type of purchasing experience is fundamentally shifting the space, giving consumers direct access to their favorite brands as well as fostering product innovation thanks to data and insights collection.
PSFK: What trends are you noticing in the ecommerce alcohol space?
Devaraj: Convenience is a core tenet here. As we all know, brick‑and‑mortar sales have been declining while online sales have been increasing. In our industry in particular, that number is still below one percent, where that number could be 14, 15 percent.
Thirstie is in direct response to that. We're originally a direct‑to‑consumer platform, but we saw a massive opportunity to be able to build marketplaces for brands so that they could control the entire consumer experience.
The millennial target is important to them. Consumer experience is critical for them. Maybe more importantly would be the data, and the insight that they could get from their consumers for the first time ever: first‑party data.
Now they can measure true ROI on every marketing dollar spent, and also can retarget customers directly and have a direct line of communication. This is first‑party data, real‑time data. We are starting to build out brand dashboards for our partners, so they understand exactly what is happening across the country for every single brand where we're ecommerce enabling.
We run the platform for them in a highly compliant manner. When we talk to executives of these brands, it's amazing. They now understand that they can run their businesses like a traditional CPG business. Until now, they were quite literally separated from the end consumer.
Who are the brands looking to Thirstie's turnkey solution?
Right now, we're working with AB InBev. We're working with Hennessy. We're working with Beam Suntory. We're working with Maker's Mark. We're working with Clos19. We did a program for Dom Perignon. There are going to be a handful more that are public.
Could you explain what the consumer experience is like for brands that use Thirstie, and what benefits it provides?
For example, the consumer would go directly to Clos19, which is the spirit's portfolio in the U.S. Or they would go to Drinkworks, which is an interesting joint venture between AB InBev and Keurig. Or you'd go to Beam Suntory's makersmark.com. In all of those situations, we have multiyear exclusive agreements with the brand to be the white label provider.
Ultimately, consumers are drawn to the story. There's an interest in the brand behind what they consume. We've seen that as liquor brands learn who their customers are through some of the data that we're providing to them, they'll start producing more of limited-edition and seasonal products.
It's very much akin to what I've called the Netflix model, where they're using data to create content for Netflix, but also actually even create new products. There'll be some information that we announce, and brands will start to build new product as a result of that, driven by the consumer.
Do you plan to work with smaller or more local brands?
We'll be rolling out a program for the 10,000-plus small craft distilleries in the U.S. Part of my vision is to democratize the industry. We want to make sure that we partner with brands of many sizes. We want to make sure that we remain the go‑to technology and logistics provider for brands.
Lead image: stock photos from THANAPHON SUBSANG/Shutterstock