Cocktail Culture – Industry Insights, Consumer Drivers, Brand Challenges and Innovation Landscape

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Cocktail Culture Industry Report Overview

The cocktail culture is a historic trend that has undergone several movements over the decades. In the 21st century, it has benefited from the craft alcohol movement and demand for premium experiences.  In 2024, cocktail culture has been influenced by relatively recent developments such as the craft craze, COVID’s elevation of home-based indulgence and entertaining, increased RTD product diversity and sophistication, and the emergence of a more experiential-focused Gen Z consumer base.

The ‘Cocktail Culture Industry Report’ tracks the ongoing evolution of demand for cocktails among different consumer demographics. The report covers the key factors influencing cocktails consumption in the 21st century. The report also highlights the main challenges brands are facing to attract and engage new customers. The cocktail culture research report also provides a detailed innovation landscape with possible opportunities for brands to create business with different consumer groups.

Key Consumer Drivers •         Toasting Transparency

•         Picking Premium

•         Digital Connoisseurs

•         Setting The Bar Low

•         A Glass for Everyone

Key Consumer Groups •         Gen Z

•         Gen Y

•         Gen X

•         Boomers

•         Silent Generation

Key Brands •         Hangzhou Haifu

•         Bacardi

•         Aldi

•         Empirical

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Cocktail Culture – Key Consumer Drivers

Toasting transparency, picking premium, digital connoisseurs, setting the bar low, and glass for everyone are a few of the demand spaces that are driving the cocktail culture among consumers. For instance, cocktails represent a key premium choice versus more mass alcohol options.  They have value-for-money appeal as a higher-priced, but quality-associated option. A well-prepared cocktail is considered a “good value for money” because, despite the inevitably higher price, it ticks multiple boxes for consumers in the indulgent experience space.

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Cocktail Culture – Key Consumer Groups

Cocktail culture has a generational component to its ongoing success. The latter decades of the “age of entertaining” and the “craft era” are attributable to the Silent Generation through Generation X and into Millennials. However, the market is changing, with the growing number of Generation Z at legal drinking age now exerting influence. The nature of the Generation Z cohort, as the heir to the Millennials’ role as the defining modern consumer generation, is key in guiding the demand space evolution for alcoholic beverages.

Consumer Spend on Food/Drinks in Pub, Club, or Bar, 2023

Consumer Spend on Food/Drinks in Pub, Club, or Bar, 2023

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Cocktail Culture – Key Brands

RTDs are continuing to play a significant role in increasing accessibility to the cocktail market, alongside experimenting with new and updated combinations of ingredients. The aim in many cases is to respond to changing consumer preferences, particularly among younger generations, and create alternatives to basics like beer or straight liquors that resonate with individual consumers and social groups, shared consumption occasions, and so on. What will be key is for brands aiming to play in this space to educate themselves and seek an understanding of what Generation Z and others are precisely looking for, or open to in their ingredient and flavor combinations.

The key brands in the cocktail culture industry are Hangzhou Haifu, Aldi, Empirical, and Bacardi among others. The Bacardi aged rum cocktail is a “flavored alcoholic drink with 31% rum,” that provides an “exceptional blend of Bacardi aged rum and naturally crafted ingredient.” In the US, an Empirical Doritos margarita is described as a “most unexpected” collaboration. The limited-edition release is stated to use a “vacuum distillation process and bring together the most iconic flavors in the world into a completely new sensory experience”.

Cocktail Culture Industry Brands

Cocktail Culture Industry Brands

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Scope

• Cocktails have always occupied a premium space, financially and in perception. They are based on an elevated experience, bringing in diverse ingredients, often precise detail in preparation, association with expertise and creativity, and a display, or “social currency” element as a shared experience.

• With a cost-of-living crisis in full swing, purchases are being filtered through a more exacting screening process of need by consumers.

• Cocktails tick a full range of boxes across three key themes of reward, filtering, and product choice, and align with the idea of a lower volume, but more creatively expressive, “exciting” consumption experience.

• The old favorites of the cocktail market remain key, but they are familiar and not exciting to younger generations looking for relevance to their preferences, experiences, and for experiential challenges. Cocktail culture has a reactionary element to it, recycling trends from the past, which might appeal to retro connoisseurs and older consumers, but threatens the ability to keep the segment vital for newer consumers.

Key Highlights

  • Cocktails have always occupied a premium space, financially and in perception. They are based on an elevated experience, bringing in diverse ingredients, often precise detail in preparation, association with expertise and creativity, and a display, or “social currency” element as a shared experience.
  • With a cost-of-living crisis in full swing, purchases are being filtered through a more exacting screening process of needs by consumers.
  • Cocktails tick a full range of boxes across three key themes of reward, filtering, and product choice, and align with the idea of a lower volume, but more creatively expressive, “exciting” consumption experience.
  • The old favourites of the cocktail market remain key, but they are familiar and not exciting to younger generations looking for relevance to their preferences, experiences, and experiential challenges. Cocktail culture has a reactionary element to it, recycling trends from the past, which might appeal to retro connoisseurs and older consumers, but threatens the ability to keep the segment vital for newer consumers.

Reasons to Buy

  • Consider emerging opportunities and threats in the cocktail and FAB market and gain insight into potential future consumer behavior.
  • Identify interesting new and emerging concepts, products, and ideas on offer in retail, foodservice, online spaces, and beyond.
  • Understand how new concepts and ideas fit into – or challenge – current consumer trends.
  • Gain insight and inspiration for innovation programs and new product development.

Emperical
Frito-Lay
Bacardi
Aldi

Table of Contents

1. Market Overview

2. Key Consumer Drivers

3. Brand Challenges

4. Innovation Landscape

5. Key Consumer Groups

6. Appendix

Frequently asked questions

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