retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Fast Company has the story of Haus, described as a new e-commerce startup that is betting that a growing American enthusiasm for aperitifs can be converted into a thriving online business.

The company is making two bets: that “more and more drinkers, particularly those under 40, want more refined drink choices that also fit within their healthy lifestyles, and 2) It can reach those customers in new ways that upend the traditional alcohol distribution system.”

In part, Haus is a response to a certain amount of American ambivalence about the Aperol Spritz, a summer drink made from prosecco, soda, and the eponymous Italian aperitif Aperol; while it is growing in popularity here in the US, it has gotten some criticism for being too sweet, too cloying, and a kind of “saccharine syrup bomb.”

(Kate McMahon had an MNB column about the debate that you can read here. She was responding to a New York Times article that described the Aperol Spritz as tasting like “a Capri Sun after soccer practice on a hot day,” and she said that for a lot of people, that sounds perfect.)

According to Fast Company, “The big bet Haus is making is that people are interested enough in a certain new type of drink that they would order it online, not mindlessly at the liquor store when preparing for the weekend’s festivities … Most of what people drink has been around for decades, if not centuries, and distribution is gate-kept by three big companies: Campari, Diageo, and Pernod. The only way to scale as a spirit brand these days is to get picked up by one of these three.”

And so, Haus is building a business model that not only offers a refreshment alternative that it believes compares favorably with more traditional drinks, but also uses a more modern distribution method with which younger drinkers are comfortable.

Fast Company notes that “Haus’s first product, called simply ‘Citrus+Flowers,’ is a white wine-based drink infused with lemon, grapefruit, elderflower, and hibiscus.” It costs $35 a bottle … and there reportedly is a waitlist of more than 3,000 people.
KC's View:
Just another example of how smart people can come up with a fresh take on an old category and use technology to make it accessible to a new audience.