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Consumers have made some significant changes in their drinks choices since emerging from lockdown, CGA’s research shows, with some categories including spirits and cocktails lagging behind draught products so far.

CGA’s latest Consumer Pulse survey - based on a nationally representative sample of 747 British consumers, including 646 consumers from England - provides fascinating insights into drinkers’ behaviour since returning to pubs, bars and restaurants. It shows that only a quarter (27%) of those who normally consume cocktails have chosen one since the market reopened, while numbers are not much higher among vodka drinkers (35%) and gin drinkers (40%).

Separate research for CGA’s Drinks Recovery Tracker meanwhile shows that beer sales have outperformed other categories since lockdown—perhaps because consumers are opting for draught drinks after being limited to off-trade cans and bottles for several months.

The Consumer Pulse survey illustrates how competition for drinks purchases is intensifying. With overall sales well down on pre-COVID levels, dwell times cut and a third of customers now drinking fewer serves, drinks suppliers face a fierce battle for market share. Another side effect of the pandemic could be to reinforce consumers’ brand loyalty, with only 8% of Consumer Pulse respondents indicating that they are drinking different brands since lockdown.

The new trends may be powered by consumers’ changing visits, with more staying close to home for their drinking rather than travelling to venues, especially in city centres. Some consumers responding to the survey also noted that drinks menus have been reduced in some locations.

Consumers have responded to the pandemic in very different ways, but it’s clear that many have been quite restrained and conservative in their drinks choices since lockdown,” says Jess Walsh, Consumer Research Executive at CGA. “Selections may well return closer to pre-pandemic levels as drinking occasions become more frequent, varied and up-tempo over time. But with competition for spend so intense, it will be absolutely crucial for operators and suppliers to understand important nuances in behaviour and ensure they are people’s venues and brands of choice.”

CGA’s Consumer Pulse research provides essential up-to-the-minute insights into consumers’ behaviour as hospitality returns. To learn more, contact CGA’s consumer research executive Jess Walsh at


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