Why do liquor stores look like they're stuck in 1979? (and why it's about to change)

Looking at pictures from 40 years ago can be entertaining and educational. It’s fascinating to see how much things have changed, or haven’t. For example, if you looked at an old picture of the inside of a grocery store, it would make you cringe seeing what we called “food” back then. The shelves were packed with processed products full of artificial colors and harmful preservatives. As time has passed and information about food ingredients is more available, consumers’ concern for their own wellness has changed the grocery store shelves. Organic products and fresh food have dominated the aisles. Clean label products are even filling the isles of convenience stores and gas stations. Sugary sodas are disappearing from the prime spots on the shelves. Beverages with exotic ingredients that claim wondrous health benefits are not just confined to specialty health food stores any longer. The one place that seems immune to this global trend is the liquor store. Even within modern grocery stores, the beer & wine aisle is straight out of ’79. So what’s the hold up? Most of the brands you see in the alcohol isle are owned by big corporations and conglomerates. They don’t have the agility to respond to trends, even mega trends such as ‘health & wellness’. It also seems that they are more concerned with what their competitors are doing than what the market is begging for. It’s the small start-up brands that will bring the alcohol industry into the modern world. When Boathouse Beverage created Spiked Seltzer in 2013, it only took 3 years for Anheuser-Busch to snatch up the brand. Immediately after came Boston Beer Co, Mark Anthony Group (Mike’s Hard), Miller/ Coors, as well as other macro brands entering the market with their own versions of a hard seltzer. This pattern will be repeated as consumers stop drinking mass produced, high alcohol beverages and replace them with brands that use natural ingredients and willingly share their nutrition information. I can see the day where we’ll find a section of the liquor store with a perishable juice based alcoholic drink section. In fact, I can’t wait.

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