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On-the-go cocktails and e-commerce fuel Diageo North America's sales

Julia La Roche
·Correspondent
·2 min read
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The convenience of ready-to-drink bar-quality cocktails and e-commerce is fueling alcohol sales in North America for Diageo (DEO), the parent company of brands such as Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, Smirnoff, Cîroc, Casamigos, and Guinness.

North America, Diageo's largest and most profitable market, saw its net sales climb 12.3% in the last six months of 2020, the beverage company's first half of fiscal 2021.

According to Diageo North America's president Debra Crew, people "don't necessarily want to drink more, but they want to drink better."

"We're just seeing that people want more optionality in their ready-to-drink. It used to be if you wanted ready-to-drink, you could just have beer. Now you can have all sorts of cocktails as well. And people have really latched on to that trend," Crew told Yahoo Finance Live on Tuesday.

BRAZIL - 2020/01/13: In this photo illustration the Diageo logo is seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BRAZIL - 2020/01/13: In this photo illustration the Diageo logo is seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

On the heels of phenomenal growth in hard seltzers from Diageo's Smirnoff vodka portfolio, some of the recent launches in the canned cocktail space include Ketel One Botanical vodka spritz, Tanqueray crafted gin drinks, and Crown Royal cocktails. Diageo is launching its Guinness Nitro Cold Brew coffee in the U.S. shortly, Crew said.

"I think that the idea of I can have a great cocktail and it's easy and convenient to have, and I can have it at home, or I can have it on-the-go, it's just one of these trends that sort of marries multiple things," Crew said.

One of those things that bode well for the convenience trend is the proliferation of e-commerce in the adult beverage space.

Before the pandemic, less than 1 in 3 alcohol drinkers were aware they could buy alcohol online, and e-commerce accounted for less than 2% of total sales of alcohol in early 2020.

"I think at the height of the pandemic, you think of July 4th week, one in three purchases were, were actually made on an e-commerce platform. So, it's been amazing for our business. It's still quite small, and of course, it varies state to state, but many are saying that you get to 2024, you could see up to 7% of sales go through this platform, so just an explosive growth off of something that people didn't know even though they could do prior," Crew said.

Julia La Roche is a correspondent for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.