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Retail Analytics

The Future of The Alcohol Industry: What We Learned From Bar & Restaurant Trends in 2021

What is the future of the alcohol industry? Find out upcoming trends and insights we’ve gained throughout the year.

There has been a significant shift in alcohol trends over the past two years. The COVID 19 pandemic reshaped the way we live our lives.

Even so, not everything that emerged from the period of the pandemic is here to stay. Some trends that emanated or were supercharged during this period will fade over time. But, of course, some will stick around. 

So what is the future of the alcohol industry? Which trends will be born or strengthened in the next coming years as the American economy recovers from the pangs of the COVID 19 pandemic?

5 Clear Alcohol Sales Trends Shown From On-Premise POS Data

Forecasting even the immediate future is challenging. And in the cut-throat alcohol industry, where the margins are razor-sharp, it's crucial that you use every tool at your disposal to gain a competitive edge. On-premise POS data can give you access to alcohol sales from bars and restaurants throughout the US.  These tailored data insights can help you make informed business decisions to soar above your competition. With that being said, here are five alcohol trends consistent with our on-premise POS data:

1. Ready-To-Drink Beverages are Here to Stay

One trend that is likely to decline as the pandemic wanes is at-home mixology. With restaurants and bars closed, people were forced to learn how to make their own cocktails at home. However, with the reopening of on-premise establishments, they will shift back to craft cocktails made by professional bartenders. 

Nonetheless, it's unlikely that the same thing will happen to Ready-To-Drink beverages (RTDs). Why? These drinks are all about simplicity, convenience, and on the go. As consumers resume their post-pandemic life, they'll still want quality and ease in what they drink. And this means hard seltzers, and canned beers and wines will continue to be a convenient go-to, resulting in RTDs being the fastest-growing segment in the future of the alcohol industry. 

2. Supply Chain Disruptions Will Continue to Impact Alcohol Trends 

The pandemic greatly impacted the world's production and distribution. Shipping bottlenecks arose during this period. Alcohol manufacturers slowed or halted production. This resulted in prolonged, crippling shortages. 

Whereas shortages may be a common problem, the lockdown exacerbated supply chain disruptions. Forecasting when the alcohol shortage will come to an end is almost impossible given the unprecedented nature of the COVID 19 pandemic. Most alcohol industry stakeholders predict that to be Q2 of 2022. In the meantime, expect the unavailability of aluminum and glass to affect the availability of a wide range of alcohol products. 

3. Wine Must Remarket to Younger Audiences

You may be surprised to know that wine sales are actually head-to-head with beer ones, and sometimes even overtake them. However, wine sellers must still rethink how they market to younger audiences. Currently millennials and Gen Zs  have the highest buying power, a trend which will continue to rise as more Gen Zs reach the legal drinking age.  When you socialize with these generations, you'll realize that they tend to favor craft beer, hard seltzer, American whiskey, RTDs, and craft cocktails, more than they do wine. 

This is because the craft beer and distilling industry has done a great job packaging products to connect with consumers. However, younger consumers may get easily intimidated by product offerings in the wine industry. That said, retailers can simplify the broad wine category to resonate with younger audiences more. 

4. Cocktails (Canned and Craft) Are Acting as a Differentiator 

The consumption of cocktails has become increasingly popular in the recent past. The most sold cocktails include: 

  • Gin Tonic
  • Rum & Coke
  • Mojito
  • Whiskey. 

This trend is likely to continue in 2022. Bars can offer their own canned or crafted cocktails to differentiate themselves from other alcohol brands. 

Consumers are continuously searching for ways to consume less while giving preference to quality products. Retailers also benefit from selling canned cocktails because, on top of being less expensive to sell, these products don’t have as high an alcohol concentration —meaning retailers can rest assured that their customers are less likely to get too intoxicated and risk their safety. 

Given the tumultuous time that the alcohol industry experienced during the pandemic, it's high time that bar and restaurant owners and distributors diversify and increase their creativity. Some of the cocktails that will be trending going forward include vegan spirits and mocktails, minimalist cocktails, tropical cocktails, hard seltzers, Moscow mule, vintage cocktails, and sustainable cocktails. 

5. Consumers Show Clear Brand Preferences 

The ripples occurring across the alcohol industry encourage more start-ups and product launches. This, in turn, changes what consumers choose to drink. Traditionally, older generations prefer to stick with their favorite one or two brands within each alcohol category, and many are unwilling to experiment with new alcohol brands. This trend is reflected in people's purchasing decisions. According to Google, over half of consumers aged over-55 considered only one brand before making a drink or food purchase. 

However, younger consumers are not following suit, making their purchasing decisions more unpredictable. Brands are therefore faced with increasing responsibilities to acquire consumers by learning their purchasing habits and behaviors. 

Below is an outline of some of the most preferred alcohol brands: 

  • Whiskey: Maker's Mark, Jameson, Bulleit, Woodford Reserve, and Buffalo Trace
  • Vodka: Tito's, Ketel One, Grey Goose, Absolut
  • Tequilas: Casamigos, Don Julio, Patron, and Espolon
  • Gin: Bombay Sapphire, Bluecoat, Plymouth, Tanqueray, and Hendrick's
  • Other: Aperol, Campari and White Claw

How iControl Can Help Alcohol Retailers Navigate the Future of the Alcohol Industry

The iControl platform allows users to conduct a geographical search to see what is trending when and where. Some of the drill-down capabilities that this platform offers include: 

  • Serving type
  • Class of trade
  • Case equivalents
  • Volume
  • Pricing analysis
  • Market share
  • And much more

With this on-premise alcohol sales data, retailers can monitor how different brands of alcohol are performing relative to a given category or segment, as well as see how their competitors are performing. This enables the marketing and sales teams to gain unparalleled agility and market awareness, resulting in more effective marketing deliverables and sales presentations.  

The proprietary alcohol sales data offered by iControl will boost your sales and help you create sustainable profitability. Request a demo for POS insights today to witness this platform in action. 

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