Spirits - Consumer Insights and Trends.
The three expected future consumer trends in the spirits category, specifically for the whiskey/brown spirits category, include dessert-inspired spirits, unique barrel finishes, and balance between brands and age statements.
SPIRITS INDUSTRY CONSUMER TRENDS
- According to trend reports, American whiskey is in a new golden era.
- Category sales have reached record highs that have last been seen in the 1960s, which was the last time brown spirits experienced a boom.
- Spirits are considered to be a growing category and there is a lot more room (and years) to grow, making each trend recorded right now an ongoing movement that be relevant during the golden era.
1. DESSERT-INSPIRED SPIRITS
- Dessert-inspired spirits are spirits that sweeten consumers’ palates and are considered to be a top spirits trend in a report this year and years to come in the golden era.
- According to a digital media company GlobalData, sweet dessert-inspired offerings are designed to "entice consumers by providing innovative creations to appeal to the sweeter, more experimental palate."
- According to experts, younger consumers, especially Millennials, do not demand "traditional beverages that their older peers may have indulged in. Demand has shifted away from bitter and malt-based beverages, instead towards fruity, more exciting flavors."
- Spirit brands, including whiskey brands, are encouraged to create an experience that consumers are familiar with. This creates a bond in consumer's mind and drives consumption from an early stage.
- Moreover, by offering dessert-infused alcohol, the consumer can indulge in "an experience that offers substantial familiarity."
- The reason why this trend is prominent is the fact that such an experience offers the consumer "additional value and enjoyment; 60% of global consumers find trying new experiences exciting, with limited gender disparity supporting this."
2. UNIQUE BARREL FINISHES
- The reason why companies, specifically whiskey companies, are offering different unique barrel finishes is because consumers have been seeking different alternatives and more options to purchase within the whiskey market.
- Moreover, whiskey consumers and potential whiskey consumers are more likely to be willing to experiment in the coming years: "There is enormous demand today for diversity in flavors, and barrel finishing is an effective manner to meet that need."
- Unique barrel finishes include finishes such as sherry, rum, cognac, Cabernet sauvignon which provide different flavor expressions.
- The best part about this trend is that the sky is the limit to when it comes to how many flavor expressions can be created.
- Additionally, producers are expected to mix up mash bills with unique grains more often, which also brings out new and different flavors.
- At Michter's, the first such innovation included rare oats and wheats, and the company anticipates similar innovations to come out in the coming years: "A lot of people are experiencing with mash bills and other production techniques right now, and there are so many variables that the possibilities are endless."
3. BALANCE BETWEEN BRANDS AND AGE STATEMENTS
- Whiskey brands are expected to be able to find a balance between age statements on their whiskey bottles, and high-end branded blends.
- The reason for this is the fact that consumer demand is putting an emphasis on high-end blends which are relying on flavors and branding, and increasingly ignoring the stated age of the whiskey.
- This doesn't mean that the age statements are going away but the consumers are increasingly caring more about "how a whiskey tastes and where it came from than the number that graces the label." Therefore, more artisanal blends are expected to fill the shelves in the coming years.
- According to a press release by Campari/Wild Turkey, blends are just "a different way to satisfy consumer demand as over time the consumer has become more educated. They will find their way to products that fit with their palate, whether they have age statements or not."
- On the other hand, age statements remain a critical component of packaging that allows people to navigate the whiskey category: "The removal of age statements became a reality because the bourbon category became so hot that you didn’t necessarily always need them. But they are still critical in some aspects."
- Brands are expected to still put out 10-year-old whiskeys on the market because names like that help consumers validate that purchase, especially in higher price points brackets.
For this research, we looked into trend reports based on market research conducted by the digital media agency GlobalData which works with spirit brands in order to drive their marketing performance. Additionally, we provided information on trends reported on by Directors, Presidents, and CEOs of leading whiskey brands including Michter, Jay Erisman, New Riff, Old Elk Distillery, and Stranahan. As such, both aspects of trends from the market side led by the market research agencies, and from the supply side provided by the key people in distilleries, have been reported on in this report.