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Source: Beer Business Daily | March 31, 2023

We covered quite a mixed bag of topics in our latest episode of BeerNet Radio, holding a discussion that spanned from e-commerce, to current M&A landscape, as well as trends in craft and more. The reason for the wide-ranging conversation? One of our guests, Ethan Stienstra.

Ethan has been in the industry for nearly 30 years, working at companies like New Belgium, MillerCoors, Red Hook and more over that time. Recently he helped co-found a bev alc consulting firm, called Ahead of The Curve Strategy (AOTC). That’s where the topic of trends comes in.

Since starting AOTC, Ethan has added other businesses too, like creating The E-Premise Group – where the e-commerce discussion comes into play.

On top of this e-premise venture, Ethan recently formed a strategic partnership with investment bank GLC Advisors, called Adult Beverage Ventures. That’s where the M&A color and our other guest on the pod, Michael Richter managing director at GLC Advisors, come into the conversation.

So, plenty to talk about, here are a handful of salient soundbites.

THE E-PREMISE GROUP: “DIGITAL MERCHANDISERS IN THE SKY.” With The E-Premise Group, Ethan explained that they work with an array of bev alc companies (breweries, wineries, RTD brands) that span all different sizes (from a top five global brewer to craft brewers who are in a single state).

INSIGHTS: ONLY 25% OF ONLINE BEER BUYERS SHOP BY BRAND (WINE IS 5%). He explained that merchandising the digital shelf is “all the responsibility of the supplier,” he said. “So that’s where we start,” once they’re situated on the digital shelf, they help out with consumers finding the brands. It’s a “marketing dream,” he said, “because only 25% of consumers are shopping beer by brand [online], and wine is even lower; 5%.” Most shop by style.

E-COMM MOSTLY FOR WINDOW SHOPPING FOR CURBSIDE, BRICK AND MORTAR. That said, “you can really influence consumers’ behavior on what to shop for. And when I say shop, it’s not just delivery … What people are using e-commerce for is learning about brands and finding out pricing, and where it’s close to their house; and maybe it’s a pack size, and then they’re going to bricks and mortar, or having it curbside pickup.” They also help with social commerce, a place where you “have a real big chance to influence people” by “basically showing them your brand and then they can find out more through that social medium,” he said. “And retailers love it. They’re investing in it and it’s going nuts right now. Target, Walmart, Kroger, they’re all investing in digital right now.”

HAS E-COMMERCE REALLY SLOWED DOWN SINCE COVID? “It’s slowed down, but just delivery,” Ethan said. “We’re seeing a big uptick in curbside.” The “big story” here is people are now using the channel “to find brands, research brands, shop brands, and then they’ll skip the high cost of delivery or the minimums, especially in this inflationary environment that we’re in.” He did note they still see an “uptick” in the delivery of super-premium and high-end brands, “but on the premiums and the below premiums, you’re definitely seeing foot traffic to the bricks and mortar through social commerce and e-commerce.

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