With the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly receding and a semblance of normalcy returning, Americans are preparing to celebrate the coming summer. Many postponed celebrations and get-togethers resume, bars and restaurants are open again, as are the casual get-togethers that often mark our summer social life.
Recently, I sat down with Liz Paquette, head of consumer analytics at Drizly, to talk about the trends they see in what Americans drink and, by extension, how they celebrate, in terms of drinks, their summer.
Drizly is an alcohol e-commerce platform that allows users to order a variety of beers, wines, and spirits directly from local retailers through a mobile app or website. During the pandemic, Drizly and other web-based e-commerce platforms experienced explosive growth. They have also emerged as an early indicator of changing consumer trends.
JM: Drizly is often ahead of developing trends. What trends do you see now and how are overall sales compared to the same period in May 2019? How much of this is explained by Drizly’s growth and the impact of the pandemic and how much is it the result of higher consumption?
LP: A big comeback of vodka, canned cocktails that explode even more and champagne that flows like New Year’s Eve. Hard seltzer also continues to explode. Drizly’s latest data shows that these trends are intensifying as the Mother of All Summers gets closer.
Drizly has experienced triple-digit growth in May 2021 to date compared to May 2019, this growth is a result of the increased awareness and legality of e-commerce and alcohol delivery, which has been further fueled by the pandemic.
JM: How do champagne sales compare to the pre-pandemic period? Which brands are selling the best?
LP: Celebration equals bubbles, and with the explosion of special occasions like weddings, graduations and more, expect summer 2021 to burst like a 20s cap!
In 2021 to date, the share of champagne in sparkling wines is 62% against 50% during the same period in 2019 (before the pandemic). The best-selling Champagne brands in 2021 to date are Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon, Perrier-Jouet and Nicolas Feuillatte.
JM: Is the growth of sparkling wines limited to champagne or is it widespread?
LP: Overall, the share of sparkling wines in 2021 to date (22% of total wine sales) has exceeded the past two years. Beyond champagne, another star in the sparkling wine category is rosé sparkling wine, both from Champagne and elsewhere. The category has seen share gains year over year in 2021 to date.
JM: Botanical flavored vodkas are the new trend in vodka. How do they compare to flavored ones? What are the most popular botanical brands and flavors?
LP: Botanically flavored vodkas fall under Drizly’s flavored vodka category, which has seen its market share increase within the overall vodka category over the past two years.
Infused vodkas, in particular, catch fire, gently kissed by flowers and fruit – perfect for summer in light cocktails or on their own.
The best-selling botanical flavored vodkas in 2021 to date are the Ketel One Botanicals, including grapefruit and rose, peach and orange blossom, and cucumber and UKTN.
Frankly Organic Strawberry Vodka, Absolut Juice Pear & Elderflower Vodka and SVEDKA Pure Infusions Dragon Fruit Melon Flavored Vodka are also popular.
JM: Are there any trends in alcohol content, flavors or calories in the seltzer space?
LP: In the hard seltzer realm, we have seen a growth in expanded flavor offerings such as agave drinks such as Cacti and Lone River Ranch Water. Additionally, flavors from other hard alternative subcategories like lemonade and iced tea have entered the hard salts category with new product innovations like Bud Light Lemonade Hard Seltzer or White Claw Hard Seltzer Iced Tea.
JM: Who consumes seltzer water?
LP: Hard Seltzer favors younger consumers than Drizly as a whole, the 21-34 age group accounts for 60% of hard seltz’s share versus 39% of Drizly’s overall share.
JM: What are the trends in RTD around alcoholic strength and flavors? What are the most popular brands?
LP: Aside from High Noon, agave based RTDs, and more specifically, margarita oriented RTDs are a significant part of the best sellers on Drizly. Other popular flavors include watermelon and pineapple. From a brand perspective, there are many independents driving growth – CANTEEN, Long Drink, Ranch Rider, Two Chicks. High Noon and OTR continue to dominate. ABI’s Cutwater has also experienced significant year-over-year growth.
JM: Who consumes ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails?
LP: Although the RTD consumer is slightly younger than Drizly as a whole, he is not as important as the hard seltzer, with the 21-34 age group accounting for 50% of RTD’s share compared to 39% of the global share of Drizly. This suggests that with the wide variety of alcoholic ingredients, flavors and packaging on offer, RTDs are appealing to a wider audience than seltzer.
JM: Thank you.