The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

The new era of cocktails – consumers choosing “light and bright”

New research from CGA by NIQ reveals consumers are moving towards lighter, fruitier and more colourful cocktails in bars.

The latest edition of CGA’s Cocktail Sales Tracker – the expert monitor of category dynamics that helps suppliers understand consumer trends and maximise their brand potential – highlights a significant move away from heavier and higher-alcohol cocktails towards more refreshing alternatives.

According to data, big category winners include the Spritz, which has enjoyed a 30% increase in value velocity over the last 12 months – the highest of any of the top 30 cocktails in the US.

Other cocktails with high growth include the Bellini and Paloma, which have seen year-on-year value velocity uplifts of 19% and 8% respectively.

Lesser-known but fast-rising cocktails include the Gin Fizz, which has recorded a 45% increase, albeit from a low base.

The Spritz was the sixth most popular cocktail in the US in the first quarter of 2024, up by two places from the fourth quarter of 2023, while the Bellini has climbed one place to ninth.

CGA’s USA Bartender Report delivers more evidence of the shift in cocktail preferences towards more refreshing and visually appealing drinks.

Asked about likely cocktail trends for 2024, 45% of bartenders anticipate more bold and vibrant cocktails that are served with social media appeal in mind.

With nearly all bartenders (96%) saying they make drinks recommendations to guests on every shift, and three in four (75%) saying guests buy those recommendations every or almost every time, it is imperative that beverage brands shift their strategy to encourage bartender advocacy.

“The shift in consumers’ preferences towards lighter and more colourful cocktails is one of the most significant sales dynamics we’ve seen in the on-premise for some time,” says Matthew Crompton, CGA by NIQ’s regional director – North America.

“Drinks like the Spritz and Bellini are thriving because of their refreshing profile, visually appealing presentation and versatility across multiple social celebratory occasions.

“However, competition for sales and share of these cocktails is intense.

“All suppliers and brand owners need a precise understanding of why, where and when cocktails appeal to guests, and pivot nimbly to changes in demand.”

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