CGA client director Philip Montgomery

The spirits category of the on-trade is changing fast, so what are the big developments to follow? CGA’s Philip Montgomery served up some of the most significant trends to the Drink Tank conference.

1 Sales outpacing wine and beer

The spirits category has recorded growth of 7.2% or £482m over the last 12 months, CGA’s On Premise Measurement service shows. That’s significantly ahead of the LAD (up 2.1%) and wine (1.6% down) categories. Close to half (47%) of British adults drink spirits out-of-home now—a figure that has jumped 10 percentage points on 2018.

2 The gin frenzy goes on

Gin has been one of the boom areas of drinking-out for several years now, and the trend has picked up even more pace this year. On-trade volumes have soared 35.9% year-on-year, lifting gin way past vodka and whiskey in terms of numbers drinking it in pubs, bars and restaurants. The rate of growth is even higher in the flavoured gin category.

3 Rum and tequila on the rise

Many in the industry have tipped rum to follow gin’s meteoric rise, though for now it is golden and spiced options, and standard rather than premium brands, that are the most popular. Tequila is pushing at the mainstream too: BrandTrack shows 10% of British spirits consumers drink it now. With nearly half (44%) currently buying it as shots, there is good potential to integrate tequila into cocktails.

4 Established categories under threat

While sales of gin, rum and tequila are rising, those of brandy, whiskey and vodka are all down. Reassessing the serves of spirits like vodka, and promoting niche but premium variants like Japanese whiskey, could be two ways to reverse these declines.

5 Growth in food pairings and mocktails

Another growth opportunity for spirits lies in food occasions. CGA’s Mixed Drinks Report shows that cocktails are increasingly popular as aperitifs or with food pairings. As we’ve reported before, there is also a growing appetite for no and low alcohol choices as more consumers become aware of health and alcohol intake. Nearly half (46%) of cocktail consumers now drink either mocktails or low alcohol cocktails as well.

For more deep insights into the spirits category, contact Philip Montgomery.


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