Among the many consumer buying trends that took place during the last six months, the rise in alcohol sales surprised few people. Beer, wine and spirits sales were all up during the pandemic, and some newer entries in the alcohol sector, canned cocktails, seltzers and flavored malt beverages (FMBs), saw triple digit sales growth year-over-year. Canned wine also continues to be popular, though it is a small portion of the wine market. According to Forbes, “The overall category of ready-to-drinks, from malt-based flavored drinks to hard seltzers to canned cocktails made with spirits has grown tremendously from April 2019 to April 2020, growing at a rate of about 80%.”
The success of canned cocktails and wine, also known as “ready to drink” cocktails (RTDs), can be attributed to a variety of factors including convenience, healthfulness, creative marketing strategies and shifting consumer behaviors during the pandemic.
Bacardi Launches Line Of Rum Cocktails With Hashtag Campaign Focused On Convenience
Recently launched by Bacardi, their RTD rum cocktails leverage the brand’s summer-focused reputation and fresh ingredients to promote the new canned cocktail option. A range of simple, creative commercials that focus on freshness and the hashtag #BacardiToGo, reminds audiences that this is not the typical canned cocktail (often made with malt), and that it’s easy to grab and go. Bacardi reinforced that messaging via a series of Tweets capitalizing on their partnership with The Governor’s Ball, which was virtual this year, but usually has a prominent Bacardi-sponsored stage and on-site “casa.”
The rum cocktails have been very successful for Bacardi, with the rum brand doubling its estimated forecast for the product in 2020. “Our biggest challenge is keeping them on the shelves,” he says. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we’ve had to ramp up production, which is always a good thing,” said Ned Duggan, Global Sales SVP for Bacardi.
Ready-To-Drink Brands That Boast Fresh Ingredients In Beautiful Packages Gain Popularity
One of the reasons that RTDs are seeing increased popularity is the attractiveness of the product, the innovative slim can and the Instagrammable quality of the newer RTD products. “Visual identity is key. Bright, eye-catching colours, simple designs and slender cans fit neatly into the curated and perfectly filtered aesthetic that social media influencers and celebrities are promoting,” noted IWSR, a data and analysis firm focused on the global beverage alcohol market.
Brands like Miami Cocktail Co. and White Claw have benefitted from this trend, both creating fun and fresh campaigns across social media that boast the unique ingredients and modern qualities of their signature beverages. “Our focus is on creating authentic cocktails — we don’t produce ‘flavors,’” said Ross Graham, CEO of Miami Cocktail Company. “However, we do add our own twist to the classic cocktails we make, (like) adding just a hint of ginger and elderflower to our margarita spritz.” Online sales of Miami Cocktail Co. during the second quarter of 2020, trended up 2,900% over the same time period last year. And, White Claw is a behemoth in the RTD universe, with the very popular beverage dominating 40.8% of the hard seltzer market. Another advantage the lighter, fresher RTDs have is often a lower alcohol by volume (ABV), making them appealing to people who don’t enjoy strong alcohol or who are less frequent drinkers.
New Canned Wine Companies Are Seizing Their Moment
The canned wine market has grown $60 million since 2014, and Nielsen predicts it could represent 10% of the wine market by 2025. Many brands are well-known, like Babe, which is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, but newer brands are also enjoying success in 2020. Bev, a California-based canned wine, has enjoyed a growth rate of 200% per month since March. The brand pivoted to direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales at the beginning of the quarantine out of necessity and the risk paid off. “Once people get used to having something show up at their door without having to think about it, they’re not going to change,” said Alix Peabody, Founder and CEO at Bev. “I don’t think this is going to slow.” Bev also shares some of the features that have made other RTDs successful, including peppy, fun advertising that is attractive and emphasizes healthy, clean drinking options.
The popularity of RTDs is likely to stick around in the new normal, with cocktails in a can offering convenience, a fun approach to drinking with friends and a more healthful option for people who don’t want to drink their calories. Marketers that are able to differentiate their offerings and create compelling marketing campaigns are likely to gain committed customers and find success beyond 2020.
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