- Online grocer Thrive Market officially began selling wine today, and will now offer clean wines at Thrive Market prices, according to a company blog post. Thrive expects its new wine category to grow to eight figures within one year, and sees this as an opportunity to expose the more than 70 artificial ingredients and chemicals that are used in the conventional wine-making process.
- Thrive has hired a master sommelier to curate a collection of exclusively organic and biodynamic wines. The grocer will follow its model of working directly with producers to keep costs down and to ensure sustainable practices. Thrive's wines will be sourced worldwide and will cost less than $18 a bottle. Bottles can be purchased individually or in six or 12-packs.
- The clean wines are made with little to no irrigation and will be free of added sugars, preservatives, stabilizers, artificial coloring and other additives. Thrive noted in its post that organic wines have not taken off in the mass market because they typically fall short on taste, cost or access, but the company aims to address these issues with its new offering.
Online wine clubs such as Winc and retailers like Amazon have made it easier than ever for shoppers to purchase the beverage from different websites, and given the growth in sales, it appears that wine drinkers are perfectly happy to do so. Wine sales overall have grown slowly but steadily at about 2-3% in the last couple of years, with experts forecasting growth of about 4% in 2018. In contrast, online wine sales have grown far more rapidly, with alcohol delivery revenue growing more than 32% in 2017, according to data from Slice Intelligence.
The industry is catching onto this trend, and more grocers are stepping into the e-commerce game for wine and other alcoholic beverages. The platform gives consumers the ability to explore new wines and easily sort through the selection in a way they are not able to in a brick-and-mortar store or shop. Meijer, for example, recently launched beer and wine delivery in Ohio, and H-E-B announced alcohol delivery in Texas this summer. In Europe, Ahold Delhaize just announced that its online platform Bol.com would begin selling wine and spirits online.
Thrive Market may be coming into online wine sales a little later than others, but its focus on organic wines will help the company stand out. By staying on brand with its wine offerings, there could be quicker adoption and a positive response to the new category from loyal Thrive shoppers. It is also possible that sustainably focused shoppers who may not have chosen Thrive before will give it a try, knowing that the wine selection is clean. While organic wines are available elsewhere, there is no other retailer that offers exclusively clean wines.
One possible drawback to Thrive’s assortment of wines is that it is currently limited to French, Italian and Spanish varietals. While there is still plenty to choose from, those wine drinkers who are looking for choices from other regions in the U.S. or other parts of the world will not find what they want.
Despite the limitations, this effort reiterates just how strong of a competitor Thrive has become in the online grocery world. The grocer's 400,000-plus customers are happy to pay their membership fee to get access to a discounted assortment of natural, organic groceries — both brand name and private label — and it appears that Thrive has plans to keep expanding, if announcements about wine and expansion into meat and seafood are any indication.