CareCredit - Women's Health April 2024

Cocktails by Subscription as Alcohol Brands Tap Recurring Payments

ReserveBar, Barsys Launch Cocktail Subscription

Barsys and ReserveBar are launching a personalized cocktail subscription service, as more alcoholic beverage memberships emerge as part of the industry’s slow digital transformation.

Barsys, a consumer robotics company offering smart mixology devices, announced Wednesday (Jan. 10) a partnership with alcoholic beverage eCommerce platform ReserveBar to launch a subscription service, Barsys Subscription Box, with options personalized to consumers’ taste using artificial intelligence.

“When we embarked on this journey, our vision was clear: to transform the way customers experience mixology at home,” Barsys founder and CEO Akshet Tewari said in a statement. “…Barsys is committed to pushing the boundaries of mixology in pursuit of the perfect cocktail poured by anyone.”

The move comes as part of ReserveBar’s overall goal of creating alcoholic beverage eCommerce options that do not center on retailers, but rather highlight specific brands and products.

In an interview with PYMNTS’ Karen Webster published in November, ReserveBar CEO Derek Correia said of the company’s founding, “ReserveBar said, … ‘The brands in this business need a place to send their traffic where that brand’s story-tell is really optimized all the way through the path to purchase’ because that doesn’t happen in brick-and-mortar, and it didn’t exist digitally.”

In general, alcoholic beverage subscribers seek customizable options, according to the PYMNTS Intelligence study “Subscription Commerce Readiness Report: The Loyalty Factor,” which drew from a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers with retail product subscriptions. Specifically, consumers who hold alcoholic beverage subscriptions were more likely than those with any other type of subscription to seek out the option to personalize the products that are added to or removed from their subscription boxes.

In an interview with PYMNTS last year, David Lynch, editorial director of wine curation company SommSelect, which has several monthly subscriptions, discussed this demand for the personal touch.

“For all of the tech optimization that we’re seeking, and for all of the efficiencies that creates, there still needs to be a personal signature on it,” Lynch said. “We’re still creating content for people by humans and doing it in a thoughtful way. That, to me, is a point of differentiation for us that we can’t lose … because without some soul, why would you join a club? I think that’s probably how people end up shaking out what clubs they belong to.”

Yet overall, alcoholic beverage subscriptions have yet to catch on. The same Subscription Commerce Readiness Report revealed that subscriptions in this category underperform relative to the cross-category average in both customer acquisition and retention.

Plus, the PYMNTS Intelligence study “Subscription Commerce Readiness Report: Bridging the Gap Between Subscription Conversion and Retention” found that 15% of those who paid for food and beverage subscriptions reported that they canceled after the payment period ended.

In an interview over the summer with PYMNTS, Zac Brandenberg, co-founder and CEO of alcohol eCommerce platform DRINKS, noted that restrictive regulations have held alcohol eCommerce platforms in the past and new ways of buying beer, wine and spirits are just beginning to emerge.

“Alcohol is relatively under-enabled [in eCommerce] versus other verticals,” he said. “… That owes a lot to the three-tier system in the United States coming out of prohibition and the regulatory framework that has created a lot of impositions on the product category itself. So, [the space is] really young in many, many ways, especially compared to other products that you can buy, and also really immature when you think about how large the market is.”