Canned Cocktails Seek to Replicate the Bar Experience

While the alcohol industry faces struggling foodservice sales, the at-home market is having a renaissance. “Convenience” has been a major buzzword in CPG for years now, but the term has a whole new meaning in the pandemic. Consumers making the shift from bustling summer bars to small backyard get-togethers have a completely new set of needs – namely that they are willing to pay for the convenience of having brands play bartender for them. Canned cocktails and other ready-to-drink (RTD) alcohol products, once a niche category, are seeing enormous opportunities.

By the end of June, RTD and canned cocktails had seen 90.4% growth year over year as consumers settled into their new drinking routines for this unusual summer. According to Ross Graham, CEO of Miami Cocktail Company®, “at-home bartending is definitely on the rise, but there’s something to be said for bartender-quality cocktails without the added work.” He added, “RTD beverages, if executed well, bridge the gap between a premium experience and convenience, so they’re a preferred choice for many consumers.”

In July, the Brooklyn-based company St. Agrestis became the first major American brand to release a boxed negroni. As Forbes notes, while boxed wine and other similar options have been around for years, “the format has never been associated with quality. Indeed, many millennial drinkers purchase the stuff ironically — giving birth to rituals such as ‘slap the bag’, which are more about having a good laugh than having a good drink.” We’ve talked a lot about the importance of packaging, and how it is crucial for shaping consumers’ perception of a product. With this new boom in RTD drinks, boxed and canned cocktails are quickly losing their stigma.  

Bacardi® recently launched a new line of canned cocktails with three flavor varieties: Lime & Soda, Limon & Lemonade, and Rum Punch. Representatives of the company have reported that prepared cocktails are their fastest growing segment, and that there is a ton of activity in that area of the spirits category.

New canned cocktails from Jack Daniel’s® deliver popular mixed drinks in a convenient format. This is a great example of a more masculine option in the RTD cocktail market, and it’s part of a trend in gender-neutral branding that’s been picking up since White Claw® saw runaway success with both men and women last year.

This is one of the most exciting new products that we’ve seen in the category. In contrast with alcohol brands that are launching RTD cocktail options, the canned beverage experts at AriZona® have launched a spiked version of their famous green tea. It’s currently only available in Canada, but given the explosive canned cocktail trend in America, we wouldn’t be surprised to see these show up on shelf here in the U.S. soon.

Many people have missed the bar experience this summer. But with such a wealth of RTD cocktail options to choose from, it’s easier than ever to have a premium drinking experience at home without the help of a professional mixologist. And with fall right around the corner, we can’t wait to see what direction this trend will take.  

We’ve covered this trend on our Instagram account, where you can find more weekly insights and analysis about the industry. 

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