Independent drinks company Global Brands supplies a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to restaurants, bars and pubs around the world. Based on consumer research, sales data and customer relations, the company has identified four trends that will influence on-trade drinks purchasing in 2019.
Marketing director, Jen Draper, shared these with Catering Today.
1) Gin – spurring on the spirits
The gin boom has acted as a catalyst for the spirits category, both from a consumer and a distiller point of view.
More broadly, consumers have become interested in the provenance of spirits, taking the time to understand what constitutes small batch and craft production techniques. While from a distiller perspective, the competitive gin market has encouraged product innovation and experimentation. We’ll see both of these factors start to benefit other spirits in 2019.
Along with growing interest in provenance, consumers are much more adventurous and take as much pleasure in finding a new drink, flavour and unique production story, as they do savouring the taste of a spirit.
This will see consumers starting to explore other spirits also renowned for historic and traditional master distilling. We can expect to see rising demand for the likes of Scotch whisky as well as Kentucky bourbons and rye whiskeys.
Similarly, drinks innovation and experimentation will see heightened consumer interest in another dark spirit, rum, while tequila will start to emerge as a drink more appreciated for sipping and mixing, as opposed to slamming with salt and lemon.
2) ‘Soph’ drinks – sophisticated soft drinks
There’s already been a lot reported about the rising trend of mindful drinking – the growing popularity of consumers opting for low or no-alcohol drinks. Where we’ll see this trend evolve is increasing consumer demand for sophisticated and stylish soft drinks.
We commissioned research of 1,000+ people nationwide to support the consumer-focused innovation of our range of premium mixers, tonics and soft drinks, Franklin & Sons. This shows that almost 44% of people aged 18 – 34 years believe there needs be more varied non-alcoholic drinks available.
When buying a no or low-alcohol drink, ‘interesting flavours’ is the most important factor for around 79% of the same age demographic, while over a third (35%) highlighted the importance of the experience and theatre of the drink serve.
Often, when in a restaurant, bar or pub, a non-alcoholic drink is treated as second-class. It’s just not given the same attention in terms of the choice on offer or how the drink is served to the customer. For example, it’s rare to see a soft drink being served in a specialist glass, which is often the case to fully appreciate the taste of a craft ale. Likewise, beyond a few cubes of ice and a slice of lemon, you don’t often see a non-alcoholic drink dressed and garnished in the same way as a premium spirit and mixer.
This will change as mindful drinkers expect their soft drinks to have the same complex flavour profiles and serving experience of alcoholic drinks. Non-alcoholic drinks options will become more defined by style, beautiful tastes and depth of flavour.
3) ‘Alter-nighting’ – alternating drinks on a night out
Sticking with the evolution of the mindful drinking trend, an important point to note is this is not simply about complete alcohol abstinence in bars and restaurants. Younger generations might be opting to drink less alcohol and choosing soft drinks on a night out, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re shunning alcoholic drinks all together.
Our Franklin & Sons research shows there’s a growing trend of consumers alternating between alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic drinks when out of home. Nearly 60% of 18 – 34-year-olds will swap between such drinks during a night out. These consumers want to moderate their alcoholic consumption and if they don’t alternate between drinks during the night, you’ll find they start or end their drinking occasion with soft drinks.
Alternating isn’t just limited to younger generations. The research also shows that around four in 10 people aged 35 – 54 years are swapping between alcoholic and non-alcoholic serves, with this rising to around six in 10 people aged 55+.
This consumption behaviour will accelerate the demand for more sophisticated soft drinks as consumers want to keep quality and tastes consistent across their drinks.
4) Right on-Trend Drinks – RTDs embracing consumer trends
We’ve been championing the development of RTDs for over two decades and have never seen the drinks as on-trend as they are now.
Although RTDs have always embodied macro trends like convenience and bargain treats, innovation is now being driven by premiumisation and shareability.
When out of home, RTDs hold mass appeal for consumers that want quick-serves, but still want quality flavours. This is leading to a new wave of RTDs that use more natural ingredients, such as alcoholic soda Crooked Beverage Co.
Premiumisation is stretching beyond ingredients and influencing packaging design and formats, which is where shareability comes into play. Consumers want stylish looking, artistic cans they can snap and share on Instagram. It’s as much a part of the drinking experience as actually drinking the liquid itself. For these reasons, we can expect to see more premium quality RTDs replacing bottled fruit ciders in bars and restaurants in 2019.
By Jen Draper, marketing director of independent drinks company, Global Brands