The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Five must-watch drinks trends for 2021

Caro Jensen, co-founder of Sip NZ and, predicts what will be big in alcoholic beverages in the coming year.

Caro Jensen

If we have learnt one thing from 2020 it’s that the future is unpredictable. With so much change happening, it can be hard to predict trends – but looking at the research and forecasts that have been released to date, the following five trends will most likely influence the way consumers enjoy and shop for alcoholic drinks in 2021. 


The RTD market has grown exponentially and the on-trade closures of 2020 gave the category further momentum. Beers and wines are no longer the only beverages that come pre-packaged in smaller bottles and cans, post-friendly sachets and other innovative packaging formats are being added to the mix.

According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, the global RTD market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.1% during the forecast period 2020-2025.

In terms of consumer preferences, RTDs in particular resonate with global consumers who are increasingly showing a propensity for refreshing, flavourful and longer-to-consume drinks. Much of the volume growth in the US, for example, is driven by hard seltzers, which are seen by many US consumers as offerings that tap into health & wellness cues, such as lower ABV, low-carb or low-sugar, according to IWSR’s recent drinks market analysis.

Transparency triumphs

As consumers gain access and better understanding of product information, and production methods, companies will be pushed to produce information that is clear, concise and transparent in order to promote trust between consumer and a brand.

According to Lu Ann Williams, director of insights and innovation at Innova Market Insights: “Transparency throughout the supply chain will dominate in 2021, with consumers searching for brands that can build trust, provide authentic and credible products and create shopper confidence in the current and post-COVID climate.”

Digital, direct, delivered

With some distribution channels shut down overnight in 2020, many producers have focused their attention to growing their business via online retailers, website sales and direct customer databases – heavily supported by digital marketing initiatives. Brands who have quickly made the switch and embraced digital and direct channels will likely reap the rewards in 2021. Speedy delivery options and curb-side pickups will also continue to grow to satisfy consumers’ thirst for convenience. “Ghost bars” are likely to pop up in delivery apps, offering consumers innovative and engaging ways to shop from the comfort of their home.

Drink pink

New Zealand Rosé is now the fourth largest wine export at 5.6 million litres, according to NZ Winegrowers. It is behind Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris but beating Chardonnay for the first time by 1 million litres in 2020. The rise of Rosé is far from over and consumers will be fizzing with excitement about some pink product launches in 2021. Get ready for Pink Prosecco, Rosé Champagne, spritzers and even more pretty-in-pink gins and vodkas.

Occasion opportunities

According to Wine Intelligence, wine drinkers across key consumption markets have been turning more often to wine as a beverage during the COVID-19 pandemic. These new ‘lockdown’ occasions and more drinking outside of mealtimes offer opportunities for innovative brands to tie their products to new and specific occasions.

Originally published in the February issue of The Shout NZ. Read the full issue below.

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