Drinks analyst ISWR has ranked the top trends to look out for in the US spirits market. We highlight three directions that may not be new, but seem to be retaining their momentum: health consciousness, sustainability and premiumization
Focus on health(ier)
The trend for healthier beverages is not set to slow down anytime soon. “US consumers will continue to demand better-for-you options in alcoholic beverages,” notes ISWR. “Key attributes important to consumers are products that are free from additives, organic, low- and no- sugar, low calorie and carbohydrate, gluten-free, and low-ABV or no-alcohol options.” The no-low category in the US is set to see compound annual growth of 18.3% between 2018-2022, according to ISWR. (Read our interview with Ben Branson, founder of alcohol-free brand Seedip here.)
In a bid to appeal to American consumers’ ecological concerns, the market should “expect to see more brands adding sustainability programs across their distillation, packaging, and shipping processes”. Indeed, brands offering returnable bottle and refill programs are set to boost their numbers of loyal consumers, especially among the millennial and Gen Z demographic. “Locally made” alcohol brands will also attract consumers thanks to their reduced carbon footprint messaging.
Ever more premium
ISWR reports that with the US economy still going strong, consumers are increasingly choosing to spend their discretionary income on “affordable luxury items”—a category that includes premium spirits. While American consumers continue to drink less alcohol, they are spending more on higher-quality products. “By the end of 2019, the IWSR sees the highest growth in the premium+ segment to come from agave-based spirits (10.6%), gin and Geneva (juniper-flavored liquor) (8.8%), and whisky (5.9%)”. Vodka appears to be the only alcoholic beverage that is seeing the least amount of premiumization.