E-commerce proved to be one of the retail channel winners for soft drinks in 2020 and 2021. This resulted from the pandemic and confirmed consumers’ adoption of this shopping method, due to its convenience and the rise of home delivery. The on-trade shift that benefited retail in 2020 continued in 2021, as several markets still suffered from restrictions. Discounters have benefited from economic uncertainty and have proved to be a strong alternative to supermarkets, due to their low prices.
The shift from On-Trade consumption to retail consumption significantly benefited soft drinks retail sales in 2020, and continued to have a positive effect on home consumption in 2021, as the global pandemic situation is not yet close to being fully back to normal and several countries still experienced lockdowns during 2021.
The pandemic accelerated the e-commerce trend, as more consumers resorted to online shopping for safety (since this ostensibly reduces the risk of catching the virus by not interacting with other consumers in physical stores) and convenience. 2021 saw the continuation of this trend in soft drinks and the wider fmcg space.
Developed markets lead modern grocery retailing, mostly explained by their good existing infrastructure. Conversely, in emerging markets, it is mostly traditional retailers that have the biggest market share. In terms of strong performers in 2020 and 2021, discounters performed extremely well, especially in Western Europe. This success is mostly driven by their competitive pricing and a wide range of SKUs that compete strongly with supermarkets’ offering. This resonates with consumers who are more cautious with their spending due to economic uncertainty.
Asia Pacific is the biggest e-commerce market in the world, and the COVID-19 global pandemic reinforced its position. In Japan, one of the biggest regional markets, Amazon took first place ahead of domestic player Rakuten, thanks to strong logistics capacity and private label offerings that helped it overtake the Japanese player.
The negative impact of the pandemic on the On-Trade around the world has been unprecedented, and it is expected that it will take until 2024 for On-Trade volume sales to reach the pre-pandemic (2019) level.
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