The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

RTD popularity surges as consumers miss on-premise cocktails


As we remain in Level 3 lockdown, the doors of bars and clubs in New Zealand – and around the world –are still closed.

According to the IWSR, the demand for RTDs through off-premise and ecommerce sites has surged, particularly in countries such as the US and Japan, which are the two leading established markets for the RTD category.

Brandy Rand, COO for the Americas at IWSR, says it’s not surprising to see consumers choosing to purchase RTDs in the current climate.

“The sessionability, increasingly sophisticated flavours and convenient format offered by RTDs add to their appeal,” she says. “Canned cocktails are particularly well positioned to resonate with consumers during lockdowns. They mimic an easy cocktail experience for consumers missing the on-premise.”

In New Zealand, Brendan Lawry, CEO of Liquorland, says since the company opened a click and collect service, customers have been purchasing slightly more RTDs and spirits compared to beer and wine.

“Our sales are restricted to pre-ordered or online sales only and as such, total sales of alcohol are smaller than normal trading patterns, we are just seeing more customers opting toward spirits and RTDs due to the availability of beer and wine at supermarkets throughout lockdown,” he says.

According to the IWSR, the RTD category had already undergone tremendous growth prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Although only three markets make up 65% of global RTD volumes and account for $10bn in value, the RTD category is uniquely placed to cater to consumers across demographics,” says Rand.

IWSR says that driven by factors such as convenience, quality ingredients, interesting flavour profiles, wellness and cocktail culture, RTDs have moved away from a previously-held consumer perception that canned drinks meant low quality.

New RTDs to the market have come from both global drinks producers, such as Pernod Ricard’s Kahlúa espresso martinis, and smaller distillers, such as US-based start-up brand ‘Merican Mule. In January 2020, Seedlip launched a canned non-alcoholic Seedlip & Tonic as well, tapping into the RTD category’s connection with wellness.

“We are likely to see RTDs continue to fare well through the pandemic, and once markets start lifting restrictions, the category’s on-the-go format will likely only fuel the growing demand we saw before physical distancing became the norm for most,” says Rand.

Did you know?

There are 6 ways you can catch up with The Shout NZ?

Our monthly print magazine. Subscribe here.
Online, updated daily with its own completely unique content and breaking news.
Our fortnightly newsletter – free to your inbox! Subscribe here.
Our digital magazines – the April issues are online now, here and here.
We are also on Facebook and Instagram!