The beverage alcohol industry is constantly evolving, with new trends emerging all the time. In recent years, we have seen a number of innovative trends on both the on- and off-premises fronts. These trends are being driven by a number of factors, including changing consumer preferences, technological advances, and regulatory changes.
A good starting place
Before we dive into the trends, it is important to understand the current state of the beverage alcohol industry. According to the National Restaurant Association, alcohol sales accounted for an average of 21% of total sales in full-service restaurants in 2021. This number is even higher in limited-service restaurants, where alcohol sales make up an average of 6% of total sales.
The customer demographics for beverage alcohol are also worth noting. According to a survey by Nielsen, millennials are the largest consumers of alcohol, accounting for 37% of all alcohol sales. Gen Z is also a significant market, accounting for 25% of all alcohol sales. 84% of adults (21+) who drink wine, beer, or cocktails say restaurants are a good place to learn about alcoholic beverages that they have tried before.
On the on-premises side, we are seeing a trend towards more personalised and experiential beverage alcohol offerings. This includes things like custom cocktails, craft beers, and wine flights. We are also seeing a trend towards more sustainable and responsible beverage alcohol practices. This includes things like using sustainable ingredients, reducing food waste, and promoting responsible drinking.
Some of the key on-premises beverage alcohol trends include:
- The rise of craft beer: Craft beer has been one of the most popular trends in the beverage alcohol industry in recent years. Consumers are increasingly looking for flavourful and unique beers, and craft breweries are meeting this demand.
- The growth of cocktails: Cocktails are also becoming increasingly popular. Consumers are looking for more sophisticated and creative cocktails, and bartenders are responding by experimenting with new flavours and ingredients.
- The popularity of wine: Wine has always been a popular beverage, but it is becoming even more popular in recent years. Consumers are increasingly interested in learning about wine, and they are looking for more ways to enjoy it.
On the off-premises side, we are seeing a trend towards more convenient and accessible beverage alcohol options. This includes things like online ordering, delivery, and home bartending kits. We are also seeing a trend towards more innovative beverage alcohol products, such as ready-to-drink cocktails and low-alcohol beverages.
Some of the key off-premises beverage alcohol trends include:
- The growth of ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages: RTD beverages are becoming increasingly popular. These beverages are convenient and easy to consume, and they offer a variety of flavors and options. RTD beverages come in a variety of flavors and formats, including hard seltzers, cocktails, and mocktails.
- The rise of low- and no-alcohol beverages: There is a growing demand for low- and no-alcohol beverages, as consumers become more health-conscious. These beverages are often made with natural ingredients and offer a variety of flavors. Low- and no-alcohol beverages are a popular choice for consumers who are looking for a refreshing drink without the alcohol.
- The popularity of subscription services: Subscription services are becoming increasingly popular for beverage alcohol. These services offer a convenient way to get a variety of drinks delivered to your door, and they can save you money.
Here are some of the latest trends in on- and off-premises beverage alcohol innovations:
- Herbal and botanical flavors: Herbal and botanical flavors are becoming increasingly popular in beverage alcohol products. These flavors offer a unique and refreshing taste, and they are often associated with health benefits. Herbal and botanical flavors are a popular choice for consumers who are looking for a more natural and refreshing beverage.
- Sustainable packaging: Consumers are increasingly concerned about sustainability, and this is reflected in the beverage alcohol industry. Many brands are now using sustainable packaging for their products, such as recyclable bottles and cans. Sustainable packaging is a way for brands to show their commitment to the environment and to attract consumers who are looking for sustainable products. 55% of consumers are willing to pay more for products with sustainable packaging. (GlobalWebIndex)
- Personalized experiences: Consumers are looking for personalized experiences, and this is also true for beverage alcohol. Many brands are now offering personalized experiences, such as cocktail kits that allow consumers to create their own cocktails at home. Personalized experiences are a way for brands to connect with consumers on a deeper level and to offer them a more unique and memorable experience.
Pivots become progress— Operator profiles
There are a number of businesses that have successfully pivoted their beverage alcohol business during the pandemic. For many operators, both large and small, alcohol provides an opportunity to be trend-setting, satisfy new market demands, and do what they do best while optimizing every part of their restaurant.
Operators were badly struck by the pandemic’s shutdowns, and the speed with which they had to shift faced significant issues. The National Restaurant Association asked operators what was important to them when implementing new alcohol programs, as well as the roles customers, marketing, and brand identities play in their plans for the future.
Here are a few examples:
- Barley Swine in Austin, Texas, started offering cocktail kits and beer growlers to-go. These offerings were so popular that the restaurant was able to keep its doors open during the pandemic.
- The Grill Room in New York City started offering a virtual happy hour series. These events were a hit with customers, and they helped the restaurant to stay connected with its guests during the pandemic.
- The Tippler in San Francisco started offering a subscription service for craft beer. This service allows customers to receive a monthly delivery of craft beer, and it has been a great way for the restaurant to reach new customers.
These are just a few examples of how businesses have successfully pivoted their beverage alcohol business during the pandemic. By being creative and adaptable, businesses can thrive in the ever-changing beverage alcohol industry.
Understanding the evolving customer demographics is crucial for the beverage alcohol industry to remain relevant and appealing to consumers.
Shifting preferences among younger generations
The preferences of younger generations, such as Millennials and Generation Z, are driving significant changes in the industry. These consumers are more inclined towards craft and artisanal products, value sustainability and social responsibility, and are open to exploring new and unique flavors. Beverage alcohol companies can capitalize on this trend by expanding their craft beverage offerings and promoting environmental stewardship initiatives.
Health-consciousness is another notable trend impacting the beverage alcohol industry. As consumers become more health-aware, they seek low-alcohol or alcohol-free alternatives, like mocktails and non-alcoholic beers. Companies that invest in developing and marketing these products can appeal to a broader audience and position themselves as socially responsible brands.
Key Trends to Watch
Here are some of the key trends to watch in the beverage alcohol industry in the coming years:
- Personalization: Consumers are increasingly looking for personalized beverage alcohol experiences. This includes things like custom cocktails, craft beers, and wine flights. Restaurants and bars are responding to this trend by offering more personalized beverage alcohol options.
- Convenience: Consumers are looking for more convenient and accessible beverage alcohol options. This includes things like online ordering, delivery, and home bartending kits. Restaurants and bars are responding to this trend by offering more convenient beverage alcohol options.
- Innovation: The beverage alcohol industry is constantly innovating, with new products and trends emerging all the time. This includes things like ready-to-drink cocktails, low-alcohol beverages, and infused beverages. Restaurants and bars are responding to this trend by offering more innovative beverage alcohol options.
The beverage alcohol industry is constantly evolving, with new trends emerging all the time. These trends are being driven by a number of factors, including changing consumer preferences, technological advances, and regulatory changes. By understanding these trends, restaurants and bars can stay ahead of the competition and provide their customers with the best possible beverage alcohol experiences.
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- The National Restaurant Association: https://restaurant.org/
- The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States: https://www.discus.org/
- The Wine Institute: https://www.wineinstitute.org/
- The Beer Institute: https://www.beerinstitute.org/
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