Post-Coronavirus Learnings from Spirits in Latin America

October 2020

Latin America has been greatly impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, in large part due to the closure of on-trade establishments and the percentage of consumers living on daily incomes. This briefing examines the expected reaction of consumers to their consumption of spirits in the region and ideas of how brands can position themselves to adapt to changing consumer behaviour post-COVID-19.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key findings

A return to local spirits awaits

Historically, in times of economic struggle, consumers in Latin America reverted to drinking local spirits, which were more affordable and widely available; this behaviour is expected to repeat as a result of the pandemic.

Markets remain exposed to illicit sales

Latin America already had a growing illicit market before the pandemic. It is likely that the situation will worsen as supply constraints and dry laws affect the region.

On-trade disruptions leave a lasting impact

Categories with large share of sales in on-trade will be most affected by the closure of bars and restaurants. Migration towards the home will be an impact strategy to offset this.

Local specialties will offer opportunities for value adding properties

As a result of both growing national sentiment towards local industry and appreciating currencies, these spirits brands will gain in share, offering opportunities for both economic and premium development.

Tourism leads as one of the most important factors for recovery

The large influx of tourists, primarily in Central American countries, year on year has boosted many industries, particularly alcoholic drinks, and so its recovery depends in great part on reopened borders.

Key findings
Swapping Johnnie Walker for Aguardiente
Contracting GDP causes declines across alcoholic drinks but strongest in spirits
Premiumisation stopped in its tracks
Categories sensitive to on-trade disruption will be slow to recover
The role of illicit alcohol
An L-shaped recovery for bars awaits
Pricing pressures impact imported drinks, encourage local
Downsizing: a solution for premium brands
How to target the post-COVID-19 consumer
Can e-commerce lift the category?
The return of tourism will revive on-trade sales in Latin America
Adapting will be key to recovery


This is the aggregation of whisk(e)y, brandy and Cognac, white spirits, rum, tequila, liqueurs and other spirits.

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