Summer Trends Rundown: Beer, Wine and Spirits Microtrends No. 5 (5/15-6/15)

Welcome, friends, to our fifth microtrend report. This month, we’re gearing up for summer trends with COCKTAILS, RUM and ORGANIC SELTZER.

We assemble these mid-month reports to capture the buzziest industry happenings and process them into specific, product-focused trends. (Read earlier editions here.)

As we start the summer, we’re watching these three trends:

Summer Trend 1: Mixing-quality cocktail spirits

The cocktail craze continues, and spirits companies are finding new ways to compete with canned cocktails.

Spirit brands are releasing sweeter, lower-ABV liquors as a cost-effective option for at-home mixologists. The idea: Why buy a whole bottle of the good stuff just to mix it with soda? Instead, these brands have created a subcategory of cocktail-friendly liquors to attract a different type of drinker. 

Scotch brands dove in quickly with debuts of Haig Club Mediterranean Orange, Crabbie’s Yardhead and Glenmorangie’s X (among others).

And whiskey isn’t the only spirit to develop mixing-quality products:

We expect more of these products to hit the market — and gain share — during this recovery summer, as drinkers continue crafting at-home cocktails.

Summer Trend 2: Rum summer, take 2

This summer, some drinkers will be sticking to staycations while others will be soaking up beach vacations. Consistent across all vacation plans? Rum.

The spirit is a “vacation in a glass”: Piña coladas, mojitos, daiquiris, etc., will take a drinker to the beach, actually or mentally. That vacation reputation pushed revenue up nearly 6% in 2020, when people turned to the spirit as an escape from lockdown.

This year, rum will benefit from:

  • The cocktail craze (see above). It’s an easily mixable spirit, perfect for summer drinks. Options like the new Havana Club Cuban Spiced are made to be mixed simply with sodas, ginger beers or rum-based cocktails. 
  • Whiskey popularity. The spirit is still a top-seller, though sales tend to dip in the warmer months. That’s where rum can slip in, attracting these drinkers with barrel-aged varieties that are more complex and ripe for adoption.
  • Premiumization. Across categories, people have started reaching for top-shelf to treat themselves. Even in 2020, about 21% of growth came from high-end and super-premium rums. More is expected, too, as travel restrictions lighten.

Whether drinkers escape literally or figuratively this season, they’re likely to have a very rum(mer) summer.

Summer Trend 3: Organic hits seltzer

Yes, organic seltzer has been around. But now, it’s the next way to get a slice of the pie.

The trend slipped back into the zeitgeist after a recent lawsuit. (Suzie’s Brewing Company hit AB-InBev with a suit over Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer’s claim to be the “first” and “only” hard seltzer. Suzie’s won.)

Right now, capturing even the tiniest market share in Seltzerland can mean big $$$. For a booze brand with a “Whole Foods,” health-conscious audience, organic hard seltzers (or organic hard seltzer iced teas, organic hard seltzer kombuchas, organic hard seltzer lemonades…) could be a wise move.

As the subcategory keeps growing (and growing, and growing…) small differentiations like this can serve up a high-value teeny sliver of the hard seltzer pie.

These microtrends can help you innovate and drive creative, thoughtful, effective marketing. Dig into our digital marketing playbook for more ideas, subscribe to Retail Untapped for a weekly pulse on the trends, or reach out to brainstorm your next moves together.

See you back here in four weeks for more summer trends. We’ll see what’s driving innovation and purchases around Fourth of July.