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The State of D2C: Drinks and Beverages

The food and drink industry is a massive one, and it’s no surprise that many businesses are looking to pivot to D2C in order to capitalise on the growing trend of ecommerce. While food is well documented with no shortage of subscription meal-kit offerings, we wanted to turn our focus on drinks.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the latest trends and stats for beverage brands selling D2C. We’ll explore what’s working well right now, and what food and drink brands can do to improve their online sales.

Functional Formats

A good drink shouldn’t cost the earth. Shifts in consumer expectations around packaging have enabled many drink manufacturers to distribute their product in formats that traditionally would not have been seen as desirable. The explosion of cans over plastic bottles are a clear demonstration of sustainability becoming a greater priority. Aluminium is lighter than glass, which reduces transportation costs, and, like glass, it can be infinitely recycled with no loss of quality. The rate of recycling aluminium in the UK is 52%.

nice wine and soft drinks d2c

Nice wine is a great example of a DTC ecommerce brand, providing easy wine options that condense the wine shopping experience to simply White, Red or Rosé in the convenience of a can or bag-in-a-box. They have normalised wine being available in accessible formats that are easy to transport and recycle. This ease of use has led to a wider adoption of the product at public events and in-store. 

Enhanced Experiences 

From low sugar, no alcohol alternatives to energy-boosting even health-enhancing refreshments – the variety of soft drinks and alcohol brands available to us have never been higher. Many of these would not have wide enough appeal to take up valuable supermarket shelf space but by selling directly they can build a relevant community.

The global bottled water market is expected to be worth $280.65bn by 2025, with the sparkling water sub-sector seeing particularly strong growth in recent years – often with a twist. Hard Seltzers (water and alcohol) have seen a resurgence and in a few short years, the product has seized over 10% share of the beer space, morphed into a significant player in supermarkets, and continues to acquire market share in 2022 according to Forbes

We’re familiar with mixing alcohol with sparkling water for a lighter alcoholic alternative, but with the rise in popularity of Kombucha tea we’re now seeing a fresh injection of functional fizz in the fermented drinks category.

You’ve most probably heard of kefir yoghurt or milk drinks, cultured and fermented with a high potency of probiotics and live cultures. Well, meet the latest iteration, water kefir – a blend of fermented mother culture, fruits, sugar and filtered sparkling water. Agua de Madre ‘share the love of live cultures’ with their low alcohol sparkling drinks brewed in small batches by skilled Madres and Padres in London. Flavours such as lemon ginger, blood orange bitters and elderflower apple are bottled in charming glass bottles wrapped up in modern Mexican branding tied beautifully to their heritage. 

drinks d2c

Post pandemic, collective anxiety is at a high it’s no surprise that we’re seeing a continued increase in the demand for extra ‘softening’ soft drinks. In a recent study taken by Courier magazine, it was found that 59% of people asked were interested in drinks that help them relax and unwind. There are many innovative brands emerging in this space offering low calorie and delicately flavoured drinks with natural enhancements such as adaptogens, botanicals and CBD.

UK based CBD infused drinks and oils brand TRIP are bringing stress-free sipping straight to your door,  fruity, floral and herbal and designed to savour, with subscription options available, naturally! Their dreamy pastel palette and minimalist flowing line drawings bring a sense of calm to this tasteful product range.

trip d2c drinks

Personalised products

Not only are drinks brands taking our health conscious buying habits into consideration, but with the online consumer taking the reigns even more when it comes to customisation of products and subscription plans, the drinks market need to keep up! We are all familiar with personalised meal kits and fresh produce box deliveries, but what about pairing the perfect beverage to your delicious restaurant quality meals? 

Australian founded wine subscription brand Good Pair Days use their ‘wine algorithm’ to curate a collection of wines based on your specific palette and tastes. Just tell them what you’re into and they’ll work out the rest. Their seamless user experience takes the hard work out of choosing the perfect pairing. Their attention to detail doesn’t stop at the wine however, their beautiful packaging, considered website and clever marketing certainly hits the mark.


With the continued popularity of low or no alcohol drinks, brands in the soft drinks market are also bringing a level sophistication to more personalised subscription offerings. South-west based soft drink brand Frobisher’s holds nearly 30 years of experience in the juice industry, and the recent launch of their sparkling pressés range brings three fresh flavours all with subtle botanical notes. They are all low calorie, low sugar and a perfect pick me up for a family picnic in the park or a garden party in the sunshine. And better still the full set of Frobishers ranges can be mixed and matched into a personalised box of 12 of 24 of your favourites with their innovative ‘build a box’ feature.

frobishers soft drinks d2c

What started out as a niche market is quickly becoming the norm, with more and more drink brands turning to DTC ecommerce. This shift is being driven by changing consumer habits and the desire for brands to have greater control over the customer experience.

These are only a few examples of the types of drinks that are seeing strong growth in the DTC space. If you’re a beverage brand looking to expand your ecommerce offering, these are definitely categories worth considering.


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