US brewer Molson Coors is the latest brand to launch a direct-to-consumer service, shipping beer direct to customers’ homes via two new e-commerce platforms.

The company has launched sites for Blue Moon and Miller Lite, enabling fulfilment via third-party marketplaces Drizly and Minibar Delivery to get around restrictions on selling beer online.

The plan is not just to sell more beer, however. According to Digiday, Molson Coors also wants to gain insight into its customers through their browsing habits, data it hopes can be used for more targeted marketing and potentially for developing new products.

The company also hopes to be able to monetise its websites and the ads on them through shoppable features.

“A direct-to-consumer website allows us far deeper insights around clickstream data, consumer behavior, how they operate and where they live,” said Trey Harshfield, Molson Coors’ global director of e-commerce.

“It’s effectively solving another problem of driving awareness around buying beer.”

But it’s not easy for an alcohol brand to launch DTC in the US. There is a three-step process of distribution – manufacture, wholesalers and retailers – and no one company can be involved in more than one element. The vast majority of beer buying therefore takes place in-store.

Molson Coors says just 1% of beer is bought online, and 80% of people don’t even know it’s available online. But the growth of e-commerce marketplaces such as Drizly and Minibar Delivery means this is changing, opening up a DTC route.

“[Beer] brand sites weren’t really designed to sell beer anyway, so these click-through destinations were previously kind of dead-ends that we weren’t monetising,” Harshfield said, adding that selling more beer is currently a secondary aim – the main purpose of the project at this stage is customer insight.

Minibar Delivery co-founder Lara Crystal told Digiday, “For years, there’s been a lack of transparency – a lot of alcohol advertising has been out of home, on television.

“They haven’t had the benefits a lot of other industries have had, in terms of that data analysis to understand who are their customers, what are they buying, where are they buying, how the competition is affecting them and how does pricing matter.”

Molson Coors says it will use the new capability to make its display ads shoppable as well as those on Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.

Sourced from Digiday; additional content by WARC staff