The adult-beverage media evolution: How brands are using first-party data to drive growth through retail media

The adult beverage industry has a growing opportunity with online shopping. Currently, nearly a quarter of online buyers are adding adult beverages to their baskets. Although this group is by no means dominant, it is surprisingly large and only continuing to grow. According to eMarketer research released in June 2023, US alcohol off-premises retail e-commerce sales will reach $6.85 billion this year, growing 6.1% over 2022, and growth is projected to reach double digits by 2026.

With consumer behavior shifting to online browsing and purchasing in recent years, brands have a newfound opportunity to connect with of-age customers in ways in-store shopping never enabled. They can follow the customer journey across the open web from first touch to conversion (online or in store), encourage shoppers to stay online, and learn from consumer behavior changes and fluctuations. But without first-party data at the core of their digital strategy—which is notoriously difficult for adult beverage brands to access—the opportunity is lost. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at the importance of first-party data for adult beverage brands within retail media and how they can find and use it. 

Brands’ historical reliance on third-party data   

Adult beverage brands have always been first-party data-deprived. This, of course, is by design: The model is focused on retail sales, not direct sales. So historically, brands have relied on third-party data (cookies, device IDs and other identifiers) in addition to partnerships with retailers to identify and understand consumer behavior and preferences.   

The problem is, while third-party data certainly has a place, it's far less reliable and actionable than first-party data. If brands want to ensure relevant and ongoing digital relationships with their customers throughout their journey, while at the same time understand and track conversion both on and offline, third-party data over-reliance could lead to missed opportunities. Without first-party data helping to create holistic customer profiles that factor in shoppers’ many different digital identities and devices, brands might be unable to accurately find and target shoppers throughout their purchase journeys.   

The solution: First-party data-driven retail media

With retail media solutions that run on first-party data, adult beverage brands can deliver messages at unprecedented reach and scale, serving up off-site media like CTV, OLV, display programmatically and on-site media on retailer sites, enabling consistent, relevant and timely messaging with a seamless consumer experience.

First-party data in retail media networks provides big advantages beyond its improvements to reach and scale: It improves performance validation and further closes the loop with verified purchases and buying intent.  Having “relevant” messaging is important, because recent Epsilon research found that brands are very invested in getting the right message to the right person: 42% of brand respondents stated that audience targeting accuracy and customization is a concern for them when considering expanding their retail media strategy.    

How Epsilon meets brands’ first-party data need   

Our adult beverage retail media offering helps brands easily activate campaigns across multiple retailers and, with the advantage of our shopper identity solution, connect with those buyers off-site. This can offer adult beverage brands a significant competitive edge in their advertising efforts.

Our adult beverage network enables brands to:   

  • Reach adult beverage shoppers from key retailers at scale across the open web and on retailer websites 
  • Use a unified approach to activation across on-site and off-site channels 
  • Verify the impact of your investment with SKU- and brand-level reporting across online and in-store sales   

We connect with 16 retailers, more than 5,000 stores and 47 million high-intent shoppers across the United States. Epsilon’s reach is built on first-party shopper data, allowing us to see true shopping habits from pseudonymized buyers. This combined with expertise in connecting adult beverage retailers and brands through on-site advertising leads to an advertising solution that is both easy and efficient at connecting brands to their most ideal consumers. We help connect shopper data points to paint a full picture of shopper interests and habits, providing retailers and brands the ability to deliver custom, relevant ads to high-intent buyers. There is no missing or disjointed data due to reliance on third-party data.  

Access to our data, and our network, helps adult beverage brands reach customers at scale—serving up relevant ads based on the medium in which they’re shopping—and see closed-loop performance for our network of retailers on one report.

To learn more, visit our website.