Alcohol brands including Bacardi, Jackson Family Wines and Francis Ford Coppola Winery are partnering with digital meal planning service eMeals, Birmingham, Ala., to build online and digitally influenced grocery revenues. Strategies include menu pairings that place branded wine, beer and spirits recommendations as options on the weekly eMeals shopping list.

Subscribers can send their final food and beverage selections for the week to Walmart, Kroger, Amazon, Instacart or Shipt for online grocery fulfillment with a tap, or use the list for in-store shopping.

The partnerships are executed through eMeals' BrandBuilder program, which grows online and in-store sales for participating food and beverage brands through a combination of recipe discovery on the service's 15 weekly meal plans, shoppable recipe content with brand placement on eMeals shopping lists, and related promotional campaigns. Tests of specific meal ingredients indicate that the program can double a food brand's sales in online grocery carts, despite the fact that consumers have the option to either accept the branded recommendation or choose an alternative product, the company says.

For alcohol brands, the program also serves as a neutral multi-retailer platform that helps raise awareness of alcohol's availability within grocery pickup and delivery. That is particularly significant because wine, beer and spirits have extremely low online penetration compared to food products. Although a recent Rabobank report estimated that U.S. online alcohol sales increased 22 percent between 2018 and 2019, including 115 percent in online grocery and 60 percent in online marketplaces, the same report calculated that alcohol's share of online food and beverage spending remains 88 percent lower than its wallet share in brick-and-mortar stores. Those lagging eCommerce sales also indicate a failure to build digital relationships with omnichannel consumers who purchase alcohol through both traditional and online channels, the company says.

To help close that gap, eMeals can influence and facilitate the path to purchase through weekly and special-occasion menu pairings, along with automatic placement on associated shopping lists, it adds.

"The digital environment is critical to alcohol sales growth, both directly from eCommerce sales and indirectly from the role online visibility plays in building brand awareness and generating demand," said Lorran Brown Cosby, vice president of digital commerce at Bacardi North America, in a statement. "eMeals' BrandBuilder program offers a unique platform for alcohol brands to fuel growth from the top to the bottom of the funnel, including coupling drink recommendations with special occasion menus to drive awareness of online alcohol delivery and availability."

The following is what eMeals notes taht participating alcohol brands can gain:

  • Brand exposure through food and beverage pairings in weekly meal plans sent to eMeals subscribers, recommending specific partner branded wine, beer or spirits
  • Additional visibility through menu pairings on eMeals occasions menus ranging from themed plans such as Italian Night and summer cookout dinners to menus tied to special events such as Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, Friendsgiving and Christmas
  • Brand integration into weekly shopping lists automatically generated by eMeals based on the user's specific weekly or occasions meal selections
  • Brand placement in an Impulse section that enables additional products to be added to the shopping list with a click
  • The ability to leverage eMeals-developed content for brand activation promotions, whether through social media, in-store merchandising, TV commercials or other channels

All participating food and beverage brands also benefit from comprehensive shopping analytics, including which products are purchased through the eMeals app, as well as which online grocery services are used, and measurable return on ad spend.

Beverage Industry also will have an exclusive interview with eMeals about this opportunity as part of its Sip & Learn podcast series in the coming weeks. Until that episode publishes, please view the current portfolio here: