US Sangria Trends
Recent trends surrounding sangria tend to be the result of the wine industry reaching out to younger demographics than they traditionally serve. These trends are specific to the market and their specific attempts to reach younger generations by changing packaging, paying attention to healthier ingredients, moving towards more flavors that appeal to millennials, making use of social media, and using the versatility of sangria to create different cocktails for social interactions.
- Capriccio, owned by Florida Caribbean Distributors, were the first to offer sangria in single-serve bottles and with their new twist on sangria they have enjoyed great success. In 2015, they sold fewer than 20,000 cases mostly in the US due to their Puerto Rico They now sell more than 1.2 million cases annually nationwide.
- Capriccio initially enjoyed success with packaging of a four-pack in glass they then launched and enjoyed success with cans. They state their approach was to create a package that was in line with current trends and has great value and to be the first to market. Beso Del Sol brand also offers diverse packaging with glass bottles, boxes, and portable Tetra Paks.
- Prepackaged sangria sales have increased 15% in 2018, while in comparison, total wine volumes were flat. Portability is a big factor in the popularity of these packages.
- Bottled sangria volumes have doubled since 2010, and 2017 sales increased 1.9% to 2.39 million cases.
- To capture the interest of millennials who had no interest in low-priced bulk wine, E. & J. Gallo distributed Carlo Rossi in 750 ml bottles for the first time in their history. They now sell three brands in cans, Apothic, Dark Horse, and Barefoot Spritzers.
- Canned wines has opened distribution opportunities and are now easily sold at stadiums, outdoor concert venues, and beach parties.
- Millennials, with less space than their predecessors, will not store wine and prefer the smaller packaging. Millennials are driving the popularity of cans and making it the fastest growing category in the wine industry due to its portability, less pretentious appearance, and they are easier to recycle than glass.
- Capriccio’s 13.9% alcohol content contributed to its success.
- Capriccio is 100% natural fruit and grape wine with no added preservatives or additives.
- Millennials are more health conscious and prefer items that do not add sugars, are gluten-free, and organic and prefer the natural qualities of sangria.
- Much of the success of Capriccio stemmed from their mixing it with sparkling wine and the introduction of flavors such as watermelon and rosé.
- Jose Cuervo sells white sangria that blends their classic margarita with white wine, citrus and apple, and a blend with red wine mixed with apple and pomegranate, both fall flavors to encourage consumption during colder months.
- Wine Group’s Beso Del Sol features a pink sangria to appeal to those who like rosé.
- E. & J. Gallo shifted from their traditional Old World wines like Burgundy and Chianti to new trendier flavors such as Pink Moscato Sangria and Fiesta Sangria to appeal to millennials, citing that the next generation want more flavorful wine so they are evolving their brand to appeal to them.
4. SOCIAL MEDIA
- Social media contributed to the success of Capriccio with consumers voicing their pleasure with the brand and its effects. They also liked the 13.9% alcohol content.
- Social media users quickly compared and replaced the popular Four Loko brand with Capriccio, and claimed that it gets them drunker faster than usual, although the company disclaims that property of the drink. Going viral on social media has contributed to a surge in demand for Capriccio even in the face of slight diminishing demand for imported, premium sangria.
- Living Roots recognize the importance of social media in developing brand loyalty, and they cite that 61% of their Instagram followers are under 35 years old.
- The ability to mix sangria in a variety of different recipes because of the different combinations of wine and fruits.
- There are numerous articles, publications, blogs, and even festivals dedicated to creating different combinations and mixtures of fruits and wines for sangria recipes. Sangria brands such as Lolea also offer cocktail recipes to make with their products.
- Restaurants such as those in the Fox Restaurants Concepts portfolio have also found success in selling their own mixtures of sangria, and they cite that is social and appropriate year-round so long as its modified for the weather, the season, and the guest.
- Sangria is consumed more in warm months and in Southern states with warmer climates. Producers are exploring more fall-like flavors to encourage more consumption during cooler months.
US Vodka Trends
In the United States, some vodka trends that focus on millennials and/or Gen Xers center on mindful drinking, pop-up bars, inclusivity-themed marketing campaigns, millennial pink, premiumization, and cocktail creation.
1. MINDFUL DRINKING
- The mindful drinking trend, where “millennials are cutting back on alcohol, both by having fewer servings at a time and switching to weaker drinks,” has found its way to vodka.
- The emergence of this trend is evident in Diageo’s introduction of the first ever diet vodka in the United States, Ketel One Botanical, which Diageo developed after observing a 13-percent drop in its North America sales. Sales apparently declined as a result of growth in the region’s vodka soda and non-alcoholic spirits categories.
- With 25% fewer calories than its premium counterpart, Ketel One Botanical was developed specifically for millennials. Its three flavor options, cucumber & mint, peach & orange blossom, and grapefruit & rose, offer consumers “smooth and fruity tastes that are perfect for the beach, poolside chilling or a movie night at home.” Each bottle, with its script, imagery, and colors, is highly Instagrammable.
- Pernod Ricard is another example of a company taking advantage of this trend. Its recently launched product, Absolut Grapefruit, was developed with millennials in mind.
- The health consciousness of millennials drives this mindful drinking trend. Health-conscious millennials prefer vodkas with natural flavors and less sugar.
2. POP-UP BARS
- Airport activations, such as the setup of pop-up bars, appear to be in style.
- For example, to motivate consumers to sample its products, Texas-based Tito’s Vodka has recently set up pop-up bars at the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York and McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. Each pop-up bar features a brick warehouse facade that highlights the brand’s craft image. These pop-up bars are part of the brand’s broader plan to attract millennial consumers.
- Another company that has recently conducted airport activations is Pernod Ricard. Pernod Ricard supported the launch of its Absolut Grapefruit product with activations at airports in New York and Miami. These activations offered samples and free gifts such as travel masks.
- Driving the popularity of pop-up bars is the limited-engagement and pop-culture appeal of these bars. Pop-up bars also offer a unique drinking experience.
3. INCLUSIVITY-THEMED MARKETING CAMPAIGNS
- Marketing themes that focus on American values, diversity, inclusivity, and optimism are trending. These marketing themes have been embraced recently by alcohol brands in the United States.
- Skyy Vodka, for example, has its “Proudly American” campaign that showcases diversity and the evolution of American values. Among the celebrities featured in this campaign were World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) star John Cena, openly gay Olympic athlete Gus Kenworthy, RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Dusty Ray Bottoms and Trixie Mattel, and writer Kimberly Drew.
- To demonstrate its support for the LGBTQ community, Smirnoff offered a limited-edition Pride-themed packaging. This packaging was in line with the brand’s #ChooseLove theme at the time.
- These messages of inclusivity and diversity are trending because they appeal to millennials who are known to support both multiculturalism and inclusivity. Fifty-eight percent of millennials believe that “changing ideas about gender are allowing more people to be themselves.”
4. MILLENNIAL PINK
- As can be seen in recent product launches and activations, vodka makers are taking advantage of the millennial pink trend.
- Pernod Ricard, for example, has recently launched pink-colored Absolute Grapefruit. Developers of this product tapped into different trends, one of which is the millennial pink trend.
- Three Olives Vodka, the company behind the United States’s best-selling rosé vodka, has recently given Roosevelt Island in New York a millennial pink makeover and renamed the island Rosevelt Island.
- Other companies making the most of this trend include Hangar 1, which recently introduced a blend of vodka and California rosé wine, and SVEDKA, which recently launched SVEDKA Rosé. Both products feature the millennial pink color.
- Millennials’ fondness for the pink or rose tint appears to be driven by the color’s Instagram-worthiness.
- The super premium vodka category is experiencing a resurgence. Several vodka brands have recently noted growth in this category.
- Crystal Head Vodka managing partner Jonathan Hemi says they are “seeing a resurgence in the super premium category in vodka after a few years of [stagnation].” He adds that they are seeing revenue opportunities in “clean, additive-free, high quality liquid.”
- Bradd Levitan, a United States-based importer of Tom of Finland Organic Vodka, also expects continued growth in the demand for higher-quality, handcrafted vodkas that are priced at least $30 per bottle.
- Examples of premium vodkas include Ketel One and Chase Vodka. Taking to heart that younger generations wish to know the provenance of the products they eat and drink, Diageo’s Ketel One makes use of purely non-GMO grains. Palm Bay International’s Chase Vodka, on the other hand, is an ultra-premium, artisanal, farm-to-bottle vodka.
- It appears younger generations, including millennials, have learned through higher-quality tequila and whiskey that premium spirits simply give a better drinking experience. Premiumization in tequila and whiskey has translated to premiumization in vodka.
6. COCKTAIL CREATION
- The vodka category is getting greater exposure in cocktail bars, and more and more bartenders are incorporating higher-end vodkas in their cocktail menus.
- Yann Marois, chief marketing officer at Grey Goose, has the following to say about vodka: “We’re in the midst of a vodka resurgence as it makes its way back into cocktails on bar menus and as bartenders rediscover its subtle impact on cocktail-making.”
- Vodka’s growing role in cocktail making can be attributed to the spirit’s versatility. Gustavo Martinex, a bar manager at Bar Alter in Miami describes vodka as an “extremely versatile spirit.” It can be used in almost everything, including house-made tinctures, cocktails, and rapid infusions.
- Richard Black, marketing vice president at Campari America that owns Skyy Vodka, also explains that vodka simplifies cocktail creation.
- This trend appears to be driven by the desire of younger consumers to try or experiment with new flavors, tastes, and experiences. This desire for experimentation creates opportunities for both on-premise and off-premise channels. Inventiveness in the cocktail space is thrusting vodka back in the public’s attention.
US Ready-To-Drink Cocktail Trends
In the United States, trends around ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails, particularly those focusing on millennials and/or Gen Xers, center on the growth of the category, the emergence of low-alcohol, no-alcohol, and low-calorie options, the premiumization of RTD cocktails, the emergence of alternative packaging, and the launch of products that come in the popular millennial pink color.
1. GROWTH OF THE RTD COCKTAIL CATEGORY
- The RTD cocktail category in the United States is growing significantly. In the 28 weeks leading to July 2018, the category grew by 28%.
- The RTD wine-based cocktail category recently saw a year-on-year growth of 41.9%, while the RTD spirits-based cocktail category recently saw a year-on-year growth of 40.7%.
- Companies at the forefront of this trend include Prestige Beverage Group, which is responsible for the distribution of Kinky Cocktails and Joia Spirit, and Milestone Brands, which introduced Dulce Vida Margarita and Paloma RTD cocktails just recently.
- Prestige Beverage Group President Mike Morgan believes the category will explode and market players are “right on the cusp of it.”
- Milestone Brands CEO Eric Dopkins says they have “seen a lot of success out of the gate.” It only took 30 days for Milestone Brands to achieve its RTD cocktail goals for the year 2018.
- Players in the RTD cocktail category attribute the category growth to a number of reasons, foremost of which are the preferences and needs of millennials. Fifty-five percent of millennials enjoy drinking RTD alcoholic beverages.
- The RTD cocktail category allows cocktail makers to bring the craft spirit to the convenient and on-the-go lifestyle of today.
- Prestige Beverage Group President Mike Morgan explains that “people today are looking for things to be fast.”
- Millennials note the following top occasions for RTD cocktails: relaxing at home (47.48%), special occasions (33.53%), drinking alone (32.4%), holidays (32.23%), small gatherings (31.19%), and outdoor picnic or barbecue parties (28.57%).
- Gen Xers note the following top occasions for RTD cocktails: relaxing at home (50.72%), drinking alone (42.23%), holidays (32.85%), outdoor picnics or barbecue parties (28.73%), and special occasions (28.24%).
2. LOW-ALCOHOL, NO-ALCOHOL, AND LOW-CALORIE OPTIONS
- Low-alcohol, no-alcohol, and low-calorie RTD cocktail options are emerging.
- RTD cocktails offered by You & Yours, for example, are 8% alcohol by volume (ABV). Though these cocktails are a bit heavier than Budweiser, they are still not as heavy as wine or bar cocktails.
- Coca-Cola’s Bar None offers a selection of RTD mocktails, examples of which include Spiced Ginger Mule and Bellini Spritz. These non-alcoholic mocktails can be bought online or at physical stores in Atlanta.
- Wisconsin-based SNFood & Beverage LLC offers “no-carbohydrate, no-sugar, low-calorie, hand-crafted” cocktails.
- It appears millennials are also the ones driving this trend, as older people are generally hard drinkers. Drinking responsibly is a big thing among millennials, and low-alcohol or no-alcohol options enable millennials to experience drinking without the risk of passing out drunk.
- Millennials are also more conscious of what they eat and drink, so they prefer low-calorie products.
3. PREMIUMIZATION OF RTD COCKTAILS
- Premiumization has permeated into all alcoholic drink categories, including the RTD cocktail category. Gone are the days when RTD cocktail drinks can only be cheap and sugary.
- Milestone Brands, for example, uses real fruit (i.e., 100% Blue Weber agave) in making Dulce Vida, which is available in conventionally-sized 1.75-ml bottles. These bottles are designed for use at barbecue parties and for entertaining and camping.
- Another example, Joia Spirit’s Greyhound, extends the premium experience to aromatics. According to Joia Spirit founder Bob Safford, people get a truly aromatic experience when they crack open a Greyhound.
- A third example is Michigan-based Coppercraft Cocktails, which offers an RTD canned gin and tonic. This gin and tonic, which is 13% alcohol by volume, offers the same top-rate drinking experience that consumers can expect from a gin and tonic that is freshly prepared.
- Though most RTD cocktail brands now aspire to compete in terms of quality, RTD cocktail products are not expected to go beyond medium-fancy. They will remain more affordable than products in other spirit categories.
- Bob Safford, founder of Joia Spirit whose customers are mostly millennials aged 25-35, explains that millennials seek quality and innovation. This desire, in turn, drives premiumization.
4. ALTERNATIVE PACKAGING
- Alternative packaging options such as cans, Tetra Paks, and boxes are emerging. They offer greater portability and convenience.
- Simple but Instagrammable aesthetics are growing in popularity as well, as brands use these aesthetics to differentiate themselves from cheap and unsophisticated sodas or beers.
- One example of a company that offers RTD cocktails in cans is Cutwater Spirits, a business spun out of Ballast Point Brewing. In 2017, when it had only 10 canned RTD cocktail products, Cutwater Spirits planned to roll out to only 10 states. Consumer interest was so strong, however, that the company was able to roll out to 25 states instead.
- Another example is Can Can Cocktails, which is headquartered in California. This company also offers canned RTD cocktails.
- Texas-based Bottoms Up Cocktails has also recently launched a line of RTD cocktails that come in cartons of four 200 ml plastic bottles.
- Technology advances in packaging have made it easier for manufacturers to make RTD cocktails and offer them in alternative packaging. Canning a fresh-tasting cocktail used to be hard, but with the emergence of new packaging equipment and techniques, the process is now less difficult.
- Canning, which was driven by millennials in the wine category, has now found its way to RTD cocktails. In the RTD cocktail category, millennials are also the ones driving the “can” phenomenon.
5. MILLENNIAL PINK
- RTD cocktail makers are taking advantage of the millennial pink trend. They are launching products that come in the familiar pink hue.
- Jose Cuervo has recently launched an RTD bottled margarita that comes in the millennial pink color that millennials find appealing. The cocktail, which is a combination of rosé wine and Jose Cuervo tequila, comes in 750 ml bottles. It is 12.7% alcohol by volume.
- Gordon’s has also recently introduced its pink RTD gin and tonic cans.
- As the name implies, the millennial pink trend is driven by millennials’ fondness for the pink hue. Millennials find the color appetizing and highly Instagrammable.