‘The lipstick effect’: Consumers continue to treat themselves to premium alcohol at home

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pic:getty/luisalvarez
Pic:getty/luisalvarez

Related tags: Uk, spirits, Alcohol, Premium

Lockdowns prompted consumers to treat themselves to premium drinks at home: and even now people continue to embrace the idea of entertaining loved ones with special drinks in their own house, according to UK supermarket Waitrose.

Its Food & Drink Report 2021-2022 notes more and more consumers are investing in their at-home environment: one in five consumers surveyed had invested in a new barbecue while one in ten had installed an outdoor bar.

In terms of alcohol drinks, consumers have become more eager to explore the options and try new things at home.

“Lockdown brought out our inner explorers. With more time on our hands, we’ve taken a greater interest in the stories behind our drinks,” ​notes Waitrose.

“We’ve also become bolder and more adventurous in our drink choices. There has been a rise in households having regular cocktail hours in the evening as people unwind from the day. And we’re splashing out when we can by trading up to better quality – and occasionally bigger – products.

“Known as the ‘lipstick effect’, people are indulging in little treats to cheer themselves up and celebrate the good things in life.

Spirits are trending

The idea of a ‘home happy hour’ has spurred sales of aperitif style drinks.

Waitrose’s sales of Aperol are up 148%, Martini Extra Dry Vermouth is up 33%, and sales of Pampelle Grapefruit Aperitif have risen 4,850% compared to last year.

“People are ending their working days with a special pre-dinner drink. The evening glass of wine is being replaced by something spirit-based with at least two or three ingredients. Many households are having regular happy hours after work too.”

Lockdown led to a rise in appreciation of local produce: and Waitrose has upped the range of local spirits it sells accordingly – such as Ramsbury Single Estate London Dry Gin and Single Estate Vodka from the Wiltshire countryside and Cambridge Dry Gin from the university city.

Cream liqueurs have gone from being a seasonal Christmas treat to an all year round occasion.

“People are enjoying Kahlua, Baileys or the new Hotel Chocolat liqueurs over ice – or even over ice cream – all year round. There’s innovation in this area too: Vegan Wild Arbor Luxury Clear Cream Liqueur is made with natural ingredients and is dairy and gluten-free. It’s the world’s first and only clear cream liqueur.”

While Scotch whisky has suffered from a global fall in travel retail, Waitrose has seen strong sales of single malt whiskies within the UK as shoppers treat themselves. Over Christmas 2020, sales of single malts grew by 6% compared to the prior year.

Champagne sales soar

While spirits are performing strongly, wine has held its own over the last year.

Waitrose has seen Champagne sales rise 40% year-on-year, while sales of magnums and bigger bottles are up 88%. This surge has been prompted by the easing of restrictions, with consumers seeking to celebrate the the end of lockdowns in style and choosing to do so by entertaining friends and family at home.

The rosé trend, meanwhile, shows no signs of slowing. Once again, it is Waitrose’s highest performing wine category with sales up 56% in 2020.

“Shoppers’ love of all things pink has transferred to sparkling wine. We have sold almost a quarter of a million bottles of our pink Prosecco since it launched, and total rosé fizz sales grew by 47%.”

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