Bacardi: 'We believe that brands are built in bars, not boardrooms!'

By Ian McLaren, director of advocacy, Europe, Bacardi

- Last updated on GMT

Martini Fiero & Tonic
Martini Fiero & Tonic

Related tags: NABLAB, Bacardi, spirits

Bacardi sent 7,000 employees 'back to the bar' in 100 cities worldwide last month to explore the latest cocktail trends - and one of their findings was a surge in the popularity of mocktails and low/no alcohol drinks. Ian McLaren, director of advocacy, Europe, explains what that means for Bacardi.

February saw the launch of our 2020 Cocktail Trends Report, which brings together all the insight we’ve gathered from bartenders and consumers across the world, to shine a light on what’s new and what’s next in the world of cocktails.  

Its release coincided with our 158th birthday and annual ‘Founders Day’ tradition which sees all 7,000 Bacardi employees head ‘Back to the Bar’ in over 100 cities worldwide, all in the name of connecting with those bartenders who talk to cocktail drinkers every day and exploring the hottest new cocktail trends for the year ahead, as they see them.

We believe that brands are built in bars not boardrooms, so getting out there for a night of “barstool” research is a fantastic opportunity for employees from all parts of the business to enjoy conversations with bartenders – the trend spotters and tastemakers of the spirits business – as well as cocktail lovers themselves.  

According to Nielsen NGA, 40% of bar revenue is influenced by bartenders’ recommendations*, so the thousands of conversations we have as part of ‘Back to the Bar’ are a really powerful way for us to keep our finger on the pulse of cocktail culture and to keep the consumer at the heart of everything we do.

Top trend 1: Surge in ‘no/low drinks’

St-Germain Spritz Bottle

Our inaugural 2020 Cocktail Trends Report found that 83% of bartenders rated low-alcohol drinks as popular, and in 2019, Google saw a 42% increase in searches for ‘mocktails.’**

In the UK, the no and low-alcohol spirits market is forecast to grow a huge 81% by 2022.

That’s not surprising when set against the global trend we’re seeing towards mindful drinking and conscious consumerism across all sectors - according to the Global Web Index (GWI), the wellness industry looks set to grow nearly twice as fast as the global economy.

It’s safe to say low-ABV are here for the long run, and not just for one small segment of consumers or occasions either.

At Bacardi, we’re all about giving consumers premium drinking experiences for the moments that matter – whether that’s with or without alcohol. That’s why we created MARTINI Dolce Zero Sparkling Wine last year, and we already have fantastic low-alcohol, aperitivo options like MARTINI Fiero & Tonic and the ST-GERMAIN Spritz.

But we’re not stopping there - our new 0% launches plus established brand extensions in 2020 are going to spark even greater interest in the category from our customers and consumers. It’s going to be a game-changing year for the mindful drinking trend.

Top trend 2: Premiumization

The demand for unique experiences in the on trade is also rising, as consumers continue to explore new premium offerings. The trend of drinking better, not more is growing but comes with the caveat that cocktail aficionados are increasingly demanding of the experience that comes with their drink.  From garnish to glassware, ingredients provenance to Instagrammable styling, the delivery needs to be on point.

Premiumization remains one of the largest market drivers across most developed economies, with dark rum leading the premium game - great news for us as the ‘king of rums’ and a perfect example of where we’ve matched our aged rum portfolio (BACARDÍ Cuatro, Ocho and Diez) to key trends.

In our Cocktail Trends Report, 43% of bartenders ranked dark rum as the top spirit to premiumize – and this is closely followed by Tequila which is a great opportunity for premium brands like PATRÓN continue to lead the way.

Top trend 3: The rise of the ethically conscious consumer

Sustainability is at the forefront of consumes’ minds and it is no different for bartenders – two thirds of bartenders say that sustainable drinks are in demand right now and more than 30% of bartenders say there is a growing interest from consumers in fresh, local ingredients.

Our report also found that drinkers are increasingly environmentally conscious, and bartenders are developing new recipes that rely on zero-waste ingredients.

Today we live in a world where companies and individuals are evaluated by their social and environmental contribution. Consumers are demanding and expecting brands to be transparent with their supply chain, production process and ingredients.

Those brands who have a greater and more authentic connection to their audiences are better placed to adapt to changing trends and respond to the evolving needs of present-day consumers. As a family-owned company, we believe in doing the right thing for our consumers but also the communities that we operate in, and sustainability isn’t an optional extra for us.

At every step of their journey from field to bottle to cocktail, our brands respect and care for the environment – from the sugarcane we use to make BACARDÍ rums which is from 100% Bonsucro-certified, sustainable sources, to the environmentally responsible design of our Bombay Sapphire distillery which is fuelled by used botanicals to help deliver zero waste to landfill.

Bacardi Portraits_Ian McLaren
Ian McLaren

I’m hugely proud of our sustainable initiatives and it’s something I’m talking to bartenders and customers about all the time because we know how important it is to our consumers too.

* (Nielsen CGA On-Premise User Survey, Fall 2019)

** Google Trends (2019)

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