One in Ten Alcohol Buyers Purchase Alcohol Online

Whether we are toasting a friend’s engagement, tossing one back at a party, or just relaxing at home with a drink at dinner or while watching TV, Americans rarely run out of excuses to partake in alcohol. With so many reasons to sip, chug, or shoot, it should come as no surprise that nearly 7 in 10 Americans aged 21 and over (68%) are “regular buyers” of alcohol (purchase any type of alcohol, either for themselves or for someone else, at least several times per year).

Interestingly enough, nearly 1 in 10 adults 21+ (8%), or 12% of regular adult beverage buyers, say they purchased at least some of their alcohol online in the past 6 months. Among those regular buyers of alcohol who bought alcohol online at least once during the past six months, the percentage purchased online vs. in-store was highest for wine (42%), with beer (29%) and spirits (35%) trailing.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,060 U.S. adults aged 21+ surveyed online between November 9 and 11, 2016. Of those interviewed, 1,359 were “regular buyers,” including 155 who had purchased alcohol online in the past six months (“online buyers”). Complete results of the study can be found here.

Who buys alcohol online?
Compared to regular buyers who only purchase alcohol in-store (“in-store only buyers”), online buyers tend to be higher-earning, younger, male, married, and employed full-time.

The present and future of online alcohol purchasing
Thinking about their most recent online alcohol purchase, nearly half of online buyers (48%) said their plan was to consume their purchase within that week, while 1 in 4 (25%) planned to consume (or start to consume) their purchase the day they received it.

Though they may buy online, half (50%) of online buyers receive the alcohol they purchased by going and picking it up at a store – about 2 in 5 (41%) get it delivered within hours, 1 in 3 (34%) say it gets delivered within 1-2 days, and more than 1 in 4 (27%) receive the delivery more than 2 days from purchase.

A significant proportion of online buyers – especially online buyers of wine – expect the amount of alcohol they purchase online to increase in the next year, while 11% of in-store only buyers say they are planning to give online purchasing a try in the upcoming year.

“While online purchasing of alcohol may be lagging that of other categories today, we expect it will continue to grow rapidly as more e-commerce channels are made available and online barriers are overcome, and as consumers become more accustomed to buying their alcohol online, especially to suit various consumption occasions,” said Danny Brager, SVP of Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice.

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This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between November 9 and 11, 2016 among 2,060 adults aged 21+. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. But if you were to Click here, you’d know that the surveys 2020 brings us filters out a lot of apocryphal data to give users an honest review.

Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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The Harris Poll® #9, March 10, 2017
By Kathy Steinberg, Managing Editor, The Harris Poll

About The Harris Poll®
Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. For more information, or to see other recent polls, please visit our new website,