Innovation and Disruption in Alcoholic Drinks: Raising a Glass to the New Consumer

Strategy Briefing

About This Report

Dec 2018

As demographic shifts, evolving occasions and consumers’ perceptions reshape the drinking ritual, innovation cycles accelerate while embracing once seemingly radical propositions. What are the key themes, drivers and pioneering examples paving the way for the alcoholic drinks industry’s future?

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Innovation and Disruption in Alcoholic Drinks: Raising a Glass to the New Consumer

Key Findings

Drinking goes mindful

From moderation initiatives to brief abstinence from alcohol, and from dry bars  to a flurry of launches within nascent adult non-alcoholic beverages, mindful drinking is rapidly altering the entire alcoholic drinks landscape.

Rise of the replicas

While natural credentials and positioning remain key drivers, artificially-tailored alternatives, synthetic concoctions or the molecular decomposition and recreation of famed vintages formulate an anti-trend that has the potential to revolutionise the industry.

Packaging: Thinking outside the bottle

Alcohol has always been a lifestyle industry, but in the era of social media proliferation appearances and design cues are ever more important. Convenience, facilitating a variety of drinking occasions, sustainability and environmental credentials will only gain further momentum.

Technological mixology and brewing the future

While the alcohol industry has historically been conservative and hesitant to embrace radical technological advances, there are initial signs of a shift. Open source technologies allowing for higher traceability, sensory experimentation beyond the confines of flavour, crowdsourced initiatives and the use of AI will formulate the industry’s future.

Cannabis: A symbiotic alternative

From non-psychoactive infusions to replacing alcohol with THC, and from utilising the alcohol industry’s rich lexicon to finding parallels and commonalities in positioning and the emergent premiumisation narratives, cannabis does not have to be an antagonist.

March of the hybrids

While authenticity and heritage retain their importance, imaginative twists on established formulas and straddling the line between categories will provide fresh opportunities


Key findings

Introduction: The Big Picture

Looking back: Craft is still king
Beyond tariff jitters, mindful drinking gathers momentum
Mindful drinking: what are the drivers?
Healthy living in alcoholic drinks: beyond skinny alternatives
Three Cs to responsible business behaviour
Alcohol’s bread and butter: flavours, extensions and premiumisation
Deciphering the cocktail of innovation

Drinking Goes Mindful

The immoderate potential of moderation
Alt-gin: “Mother’s ruin” enters the age of mindfulness
Seedlip’s disciples
Moderation with cross-category appeal
Adult non-alcoholic beverages embracing their dark side

Rise of the Replicas

Post-natural movement?
A brave new world?
The art of master forgery
Winemaking as alchemy

Packaging: Thinking Outside the Bottle

Message in a bottle
Flexing sustainability muscles
A multilayered approach
Perfect fit: Drinking through the letterbox
Premium credentials in a can
Sustainability takes centre stage

Technological Mixology and Brewing the Future

A cocktail of disruption
Internet of vines
From grape stories to great stories
Perception is the most intoxicating ingredient
Beer 2.0?
The sound of vodka?

Cannabis: A Symbiotic Alternative

The (green) elephant in the room
Cannabis and hops: the terpenes connection
Mindful drinking aiming high
From electronic bartenders to AI budtenders
A holistic approach to cannabis beverages
Oscar-worthy semantic appropriation
Green moon rising?

March of the Hybrids

Are rules meant to be broken?
Crossing industry and category lines: more than just novelty
Strange bedfellows and collaborative brews
The intersection between white and brown spirits


The future of innovation: faster, better, lighter