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The virtual bottleshop: buying booze online

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2012 – June 2014 (n=35,363). Base: Australians 18+ who bought alcohol from a bottleshop in last 4 weeks

Amid news that online shopping while under the influence of alcohol is now a recognised phenomenon, Roy Morgan Research investigates online shopping for alcohol, and finds that 2.5% of Australian adults purchase alcohol via the internet in any given four weeks — with Vintage Cellars and 1st Choice customers being considerably more likely than the average Aussie to buy booze online.   

In the two years to June 2014, 11% of Vintage Cellars customers made an online alcohol purchase in any given four-week period, as did 7.2% of 1st Choice customers. Incidentally, 1st Choice and Vintage Cellars are both owned by Coles Supermarkets, while Dan Murphy’s and BWS (whose customers were third and fifth respectively for buying booze online) are owned by Woolworths. 

Bottleshop customers who bought alcohol online in last 4 weeks

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2012 – June 2014 (n=35,363). Base: Australians 18+ who bought alcohol from a bottleshop in last 4 weeks

Something special

1st Choice customers also rated well above average for agreeing that ‘I choose to shop where there are good specials’ when buying alcoholic beverages. Whereas 59% of Australians 18+ who bought alcohol in an average four weeks agreed with this statement, 71 % of 1st Choice customers did (By comparison, this was even higher than Aldi liquor customers at 69%). This could explain why they are more likely to buy booze over the internet, taking advantage of the lower prices often found online.

Beyond booze

But it’s not just alcohol that customers of Vintage Cellars and 1st Choice are buying online. They are also more likely than the average Australian (or customers of other liquor stores, for that matter) to buy groceries online, and over-index for online shopping generally.

While 2.0% of Aussie adults buy groceries online in an average four-week period, this figure rises to 6.2% among Vintage Cellars customers and 2.8% among 1st Choice customers. Customers of Dan Murphy’s and BWS are slightly less likely, with 1.8% and 1.9% respectively doing their grocery-shopping on the internet.

Warren Reid, Group Account Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“While Coles-owned liquor stores are not as popular as their Woollies’-owned rivals in terms of visitation, our findings show that their customers have a greater preference for online as a shopping channel – whether it’s for buying booze, groceries or other products.

“This represents an exciting opportunity for Coles to develop this side of its liquor operations, so as to encourage customers who may be more used to visiting their bricks-and-mortar stores (or buying their booze from other online sources).

“As we’ve seen, 1st Choice customers are far more concerned with snagging a special than those of other major liquor chains, and are also more likely to have bought groceries online. Therefore by making more ‘online-exclusive’ offers — for example, offering bigger discounts if you buy their alcohol and groceries in the one order — might be one simple way of increasing sales among those customers.

 “Buying alcohol online is becoming increasingly popular, and retailers that respond innovatively to this trend stand to succeed in this competitive, digital market.”

For comments or more information please contact:

Warren Reid, Group Account Director
Office:   +61 (3) 9224 5161

Related research findings

View our extensive range of Alcohol profiles and reports, including Liquor store customer profiles,  such as 1st  Choice customers, Vintage Cellars customers, and Dan Murphy’s customers. You might also be interested in our People who have bought Alcohol Online profile. These profiles provide a broad understanding of the target audience, in terms of demographics, attitudes, activities and media usage in Australia.

About Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices in each state of Australia, as well as in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan Research has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

In Australia, Roy Morgan Research is considered to be the authoritative source of information on financial behaviour, readership, voting intentions and consumer confidence. Roy Morgan Research is a specialist in recontact customised surveys which provide invaluable and effective qualitative and quantitative information regarding customers and target markets.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%