This article originally appeared in Global Drinks Intel's October 2019 issue, written by Alexander Smith.
Cocktail culture is on the rise in Germany — nearly half of consumers (47%) say cocktails are their preferred style of serve when drinking spirits, according to a German Mixed Drinks report by market research firm CGA. By comparison, 11% of spirits drinkers prefer to drink spirits with mixers, 9% neat and 6% as a shot.
The report, which surveyed some 1,500 Germans about their attitudes toward drinking cocktails and mixed drinks, also looked at the issue of occasionality. It found that just under two-thirds of cocktail consumption took place after a meal, and about a third before and after a meal. This suggests an opportunity for cocktails to extend into the aperitif or digestif occasions through appropriate offerings.
German consumers most often consume cocktails when out for a quiet drink with friends or at a special celebration such as a birthday. Perhaps surprisingly, they consume the drinks less frequently in high-energy settings such as nightclubs. Happy hour promotions remain farand- away the key mechanic to drive cocktail consumption, with two-forone cocktails the other big driver. White spirits, which are generally perceived to be more mixable, are the most consumed spirits categories in cocktails. This was led by vodka, white rum and gin. Brown spirits such as US whiskey, dark rum and Irish whiskey are the least consumed in cocktails. The mojito and caipirinha are the cocktails that respondents most typically drink. Sex on the beach, piña colada and vodka, lime and soda rounded out the top five cocktails. Gin-and-tonic ranked number six.
This is a relatively new development and a reflection of the current gin boom in Germany. The mojito and caipirinha were popular among all age cohorts surveyed, while sex on the beach was prevalent in the 18-34yo cohort, and the Aperol spritz with the 55yo-plus cohort. There is also a difference in which cocktails are consumed by gender. Female drinkers prefer a sweeter fruitier taste, such as the piña colada, while male consumers favour a more refreshing serve (mojito and caipirinha). Overall, cocktails featuring this ‘refreshing’ taste profile were preferred by 56% of Germans, followed by ‘fruity and sweet’, and ‘citrus’. ‘Bitter’ and ‘hot cocktails’ were the least preferred cocktail profiles.
Importance of the drinks menu
One unexpected finding was that almost three-quarters of German consumers look at the drinks menu every time, or almost every time, before choosing a cocktail. In fact, menus are the single most influential element in helping consumers to decide on a cocktail or mixer. In what will surely come as a blow to the egos of mixologists, the bartender/ waiter only ranked as the fourth most significant influence after the quality of the spirits brands included and friends. The brand name is also important and the majority of consumers said they were more likely to try a cocktail if they had heard of the brand. Perhaps bars should reconsider the use of no-name ‘well brands’ when preparing cocktails.
Another finding that dovetails with the ongoing premiumisation of the German market is that three-quarters of consumers “already do or are likely to pay extra” for a better-quality cocktail/spirit and mixer than they would usually choose. As a point of international comparison, German cocktail drinkers are more likely to trade up their cocktail drink choice than a British cocktail drinker.
The report finds that pre-batched cocktails face some barriers in terms of consumer acceptance in Germany, with most respondents unlikely to order them due to quality concerns. Also, the expectation is that pre-batched would be priced cheaper than normal cocktails. Low-alcohol cocktails have considerable potential in Germany, with consumers finding them appealing. This isn’t surprising as low/no-alcohol beer and wine have made big inroads in Germany and there is no reason why cocktails shouldn’t follow suit.
It should be noted that the German consumption is far more nuanced than the top-line findings in this article suggest. Any reader will benefit from the granular details in the full report.
To purchase the full report, contact: Charlie Mitchell, senior consumer research manager, CGA, firstname.lastname@example.org