While spirit-based RTDs recorded decline over the first part of the review period, in 2016 and 2017 it reversed its trajectory and posted growth due to the popularity of ready-to drink cocktails with an ABV of less than 15%. Similar to the manner in which hard sodas have tapped into consumers’ taste for nostalgia, ready-to-drink cocktails based on classic cocktail recipes attract consumers who would prefer not to mix the cocktail themselves.
Over the review period, RTDs players looked to attract a new audience; the health-conscious consumer. This development was demonstrated previously in high-strength premixes as the Skinnygirl brand with its low calorie and carbohydrate content witnessed initial success up until 2012.
Wine-based RTDs was notable for its lack of new product introductions as well as lack of innovation relative to other drinks in the category. In 2017, it recorded its fifth consecutive year of decline, despite a reversal of fortunes for other types of RTDs, as well as a generally stronger economic environment.
Within spirit-based RTDs, Diageo witnessed limited success for years due to the decline of its brands Club Cocktail, José Cuervo Authentic Margaritas and TGI Friday’s. Its brand Smirnoff, ranked second under malt-based RTDs, also experienced decline in volume terms between 2008 and 2014.
The Boston Beer Co’s Twisted Tea brand managed to post growth well above the category’s average in 2017, demonstrating that continuous innovation through the introduction of new products can be an important driver of growth in malt-based RTDs. Whereas the brand’s original product is strongly associated with seasonal, warm-weather consumption, numerous alternative flavours as well as low calorie versions have been introduced.
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