When it comes to alcohol, many of us are drinking less, less frequently, these days.
According to market researchers IWSR, global sales of alcohol dropped 1.4% in 2016, with beer taking a big hit. However, there’s a corresponding demand for better products when we do indulge.
There’s a thirst for more high-quality drinks made with the best ingredients.
Whilst as consumers we are spending less on alcohol we are demanding better quality products for our money.
We’re also getting more adventurous, and brands are making the most of this by finding ways to stand out with interesting flavours and innovative hybrids. Wild and foraged ingredients continue to be popular, and ‘botanical beers’ are a growing trend, with the likes of tree bark and mushrooms featuring in ingredient lists.
Wellness is another factor here, with low and no alcohol drinks coming to the fore. More and more of us are cutting down our alcohol consumption, particularly younger people.
Low alcohol wines and beers, shandies, spritzes and even ‘spirits’ are constantly being launched. Brands are also increasing vegan, organic and gluten free offerings – Skinny Booze’s vegan lager, for example, is low-calorie, low-fat and low-sugar.
Craft and heritage has been the leading force for a while now, but now that the movement is firmly established brewers and mixologists are taking the opportunity to be more adventurous and playful. They’re not to everyone’s taste, but so-called pastry stouts flavoured with everything from cacao nibs to blueberry cheesecake are becoming more popular.
Many brewers and distillers are creating limited edition brews and spirits and embarking on collaborations, as in the case of Forest Gin’s Earl Grey Gin or Fifth Spire’s Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur. This creativity is extending into category crossovers – like Jameson’s aged in beer barrels, Glenfiddich’s Winter Storm whisky aged in Canadian ice wine barrels, or vintners such as Chapel Down creating their own gin and vodka.
Social media is a game changer for cocktails, with statement serveware and stylised garnishes appearing everywhere. Take The Dial at Burton-on-Trent’s rhubarb and custard cocktail – made with a limited edition local Nelson’s Gin and served up in a Bird’s custard container.
Prosecco is enjoying huge popularity and other drinks are looking to cash in on this surge – sparkling rose cider, sparkling beer and sparkling Pinot Grigio in a can are just some of the fizzy products launched recently.
The key takeaways for alcohol producers and retailers are to be bold and think big – not necessarily within conventional boundaries. If you can also make your product fun and interesting, and tie it into the wellness trend, then so much the better.