First-party Marketing is the Future for Beer, Wine and Spirits Retailers

First-party data — or personal information collected by a business directly from customers — is the future of marketing.

This shift spells even more change for beer, wine and spirits retailers who were thrust into digital hastily at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here, we’ll share background on these digital marketing changes, plus guiding principles for retailers ready to shift to first-party marketing.

First-party versus third-party data

Currently, most businesses use third-party data, which is collected using cookies and data tracking on websites and phones. This data is what powers ad targeting and retargeting engines (like social media and programmatic advertising).

But Apple and Google have each taken major steps toward ending the collection and sale of third-party data:

  • Apple’s latest iPhone update (iOS 14) touts an App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature, which requires users to opt-in to tracking permissions. Early data showed 96% of people left app tracking disabled. Most recent figures aren’t much better: As of mid-May, the opt-in rate for U.S. users sat at 6%.
  • Google announced that it will phase out cookies (which are used for identifying specific users online and tracking their activity) in its Chrome browser by the end of 2021. The company said it will not replace cookies with another tracking tool; instead, it is focusing on machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) tools that will help businesses use and apply first-party data in targeted and effective ways.

The ability to target marketing and ads using third-party data will all but disappear by January 2022.

Businesses will instead need to capture, curate and care for their own first-party data. For our industry, this shift is huge. Ad targeting has been a lifeblood for many retailers, from the earliest adopters to those who jumped in because of the pandemic.

But the end of third-party tracking (and slightly shady data gathering) isn’t the end of precision marketing. This door is closing, but a better door is opening.

Rethink your digital marketing strategy

Now is the optimal time to reorient and transition your digital marketing strategy. During the next six months, build a curated experience that captures and engages shoppers to turn them into repeat buyers.

Here’s how:

1. Expand your view of the shopper

The end of third-party data sharing is the new beginning of first-party data gathering. But it isn’t a return to the pre-targeted-marketing days. Rather, it’s a new-era approach to the traditional sales funnel.

The how of each stage has changed. Retailers can’t rely on typical digital and social media to carry them through the top of the funnel.

A new-era approach to the traditional sales funnel

This more proactive approach to marketing starts with capturing a shopper with innovative digital marketing solutions.

Then, businesses find the ideal content to engage them on an ongoing basis. Continue providing that content to build a rapport, which generates consideration of purchase.

After a few cycles through those stages, a person will make a purchase. Then, start again to keep them coming back.

Actively find, keep and grow with customers by rethinking this funnel approach.

2. Think like a journalist

To figure out the right channels, methods and content to bring in the most ideal customers, you have to think like a journalist. Ask who, what, when, where and why to understand how customers want to be reached.

Start with who: Which shoppers make up an ideal audience for your store?

Then ask, what makes them ideal? What products and media do they consume?

When and where are they most engaged? In-store or online? And why?

Finding the answers to these questions requires a new set of technologies that goes beyond third-party data.

3. Enter the new digital landscape

Again, this shift to first-party data isn’t a return to the digital marketing stone age. Technology has advanced significantly, meaning today there are better solutions for attracting, capturing, engaging and converting likely shoppers.

Find technologies that personalize and digitize the shopping experience.

Partners (like 3×3) can help you gather shopper intelligence, transition to digital marketing, and segment customers by buying behaviors and taste or occasion preferences.

Any new technology or practice should continually move people toward making new purchases.

Digital marketing is on the precipice of major change

This time, the alcohol industry can be at the forefront.

To learn more about the future of first-party marketing in the alcohol industry, and to see what new tools we’re developing to get you there, send us an email.


This blog post originated as a presentation from 3×3 CEO Mike Provance. It was shared during this year’s Beverage Alcohol Retailers Conference (BARC) in Austin.