The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Trends that will redefine cocktail culture and the spirits business in 2024

Bacardi Limited, the world’s largest privately held international spirits company, has released its fifth annual Bacardi Cocktail Trends Report.

The report, created in collaboration with strategic foresight consultancy, The Future Laboratory (TFL), draws on insights from Bacardi-led and external research, interviews with bartenders and insights from The Future Laboratory to share the themes that are transforming flavour preferences, drink formats, and cocktail experiences in the coming year.

Here are the macro-trends according to the Barcardi Cocktail Trends Report 2024:

Limited Libations
According to Bacardi, next-gen drinkers are embracing a ‘less but better’ approach, continuing to support the ongoing premiumisation era for key spirits, liquors, and no/low categories.

With a conscious approach to the economic climate, consumers are seeking small luxuries – looking to elevated lifestyle products as must-have pieces. This quality-focused shift transforms spirits into coveted collector’s items, with forward-thinking brands enhancing limited-edition bottles through crafted storytelling.

Simultaneously, the no/low category continues to evolve, embodying ‘The Sipping Spectrum,’ where moderation is synonymous with choice, quality, flavour, and social connections.

Innovative Aging & Blending
The new year will usher in an era of innovation for dark, aged spirits, with brands embracing unique aging methods and novel flavour combinations, says the report.

Distillers are venturing into uncharted territory, discovering new sources of innovation in the expanding category.

Bold and unexpected pairings continue to lead, whereas regional experimentation yields spicy, fruity, and zesty profiles in innovative formats.

While enjoyers of dark, aged spirits are diversifying their palettes, rum-based cocktails are continuing to grow in popularity.

Tequila unanimously ranked as the number one premiumisation category with Mezcal named as the next to premiumise, as indicated by the Bacardi Global Consumer Survey 2023.

Escapism Elixirs
Cocktail culture is transporting consumers across destinations, countries and even eras – as classic spritzes and ornate sips help to recreate nostalgic, convivial moments year-round.

In 2024, the link between drinks and destinations will deepen, with classic cocktails and European flavours whisking drinkers from the beach to the bar.

This evolution isn’t just about where but also when consumers enjoy drinks. As for letting loose, non-traditional venues are on the rise, with Bacardi research indicating a shift away from nightclubs to festivals as the new hub for revelry.

Notes of Nature
In the coming year, consumers will reframe their relationship to the natural world, impacting where they spend their time, the brands they support, and what they consume, says Bacardi.

With a resurgence in next-gen outdoor activities and a growing emphasis on sustainability, drinks brands are redefining their connection to the environment through intentional ingredients and eco-friendly practices.

In the drinks world, 2024 will see brands and bartenders take a holistic approach to nature and its flavours – harnessing sustainably sourced aromatics, florals, botanicals and oils to create cocktail experiences uniquely rooted in nature.

According to the Bacardi Global Consumer Survey 2023, 44% of respondents in Canada and 43% of younger respondents in the U.S. intend to consume more cocktails made with natural ingredients in 2024.

In emerging markets, the numbers are even higher with 51% in India, 47% South Africa and 44% in Mexico.

Tech-Enhanced Tastes
Digital advancements are inciting change in ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ drinks are enjoyed, providing all-new routes to personalisation, brand experience and community.

As consumers increasingly seek personalised brand interactions, AI is introducing exciting opportunities for tailored cocktail experiences, accessible anytime and anywhere.

For the drinks industry, AI’s evolution will create all-new paths to experimentation and discovery, with brand innovators using the technology as a tool to bring consumers closer to branded cocktails and experiences, regardless of their location.

While 8 in 10 younger consumers across select markets are looking to explore AI recommendations, they are adamant about maintaining the emotional connection and artistic finesse that only bartenders can provide.

“As 2024 arrives, people are looking to settle into the unsettled – welcoming tastes of optimism into our reality,” says Brenda Fiala, Global Vice President of Strategy, Insights & Analytics at Bacardi.

“In this landscape, people are reshaping cocktail culture, infusing it with fresh perspectives and finding memorable experiences back at the bar with friends.”

Source: Bacardi Cocktail Trends Report 2024

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