Pernod Ricard pinpoints this year's holiday trends

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

'Consumers have found ways to recreate the bar experience at home, becoming skilled cocktail makers themselves'. Pic:getty/thegoodbrigade
'Consumers have found ways to recreate the bar experience at home, becoming skilled cocktail makers themselves'. Pic:getty/thegoodbrigade

Related tags: Pernod ricard, Us, spirits

From gift boxes to celebratory drinks, the holidays are a key sales period for spirits. John Barrett, Chief Commerical Officer at Pernod Ricard USA, tells BeverageDaily what the drinks giant expects over the holiday period this year - as well as revealing some broader insights for the year ahead.

While the holidays are an important part of the year for spirits, the pandemic changed 2020's celebrations and 2021 will see consumers continue to embrace some of new trends. Barrett tells us how Pernod Ricard USA is preparing for festivities this year.  

BD: What are the top holiday trends for 2021?

JB: At-home entertaining will continue, with consumers focused on premiumizing their experiences. During the pandemic, consumers found ways to recreate the bar experience at home and became skilled cocktail makers themselves. They gravitated toward more premium options, appreciating the value of that choice when they could experience that spirit over many at-home cocktail hours.  We expect to see premiumization continue, as consumers reach for higher quality liquors for their at-home mixology.

Making cocktails more convenient isn’t going away either.  Consumers are stepping up their cocktail game, consistent with DIY and wellness trends. This points to more celebrating, more gifting and more cocktail exploring, which we expect to increase as the weather cools in various markets in the winter months. We know many of our brands will make popular gift options this season, such as Jameson Black Barrel.

While consumers discovered the pleasure of at-home and virtual cocktail nights during the height of quarantine, there is no replacement for the on-premise experience. The transition is slowly starting to shift with restaurants and bars focused on ensuring their spaces are safe for consumers.  We believe it is the responsibility of Pernod Ricard and other industry leaders – a responsibility we do not take lightly – to help our brands and our business partners usher in the shift and succeed in this new world.

BD: How important is the holiday period to Pernod Ricard; and which of your brands benefit the most?

JB: The holidays are a growth period for many of our brands, with plentiful gatherings and celebrations. This time of year is even more significant for our often-gifted spirits such as our American whiskeys and other premium products.

When people gift alcohol, they take into account the personal taste of the recipient and the sociability and convenience of the product.  Whiskey, for example, is the spirit most frequently given as a gift. Since September 2021, Irish Whiskey sales have grown 16.7% and Scotch sales have grown 8%.***

pernod ricard whiskey

Individually, our brands are launching holiday campaigns to inspire moments of conviviality for the season. For example, Absolut​ in partnership with Social Studies​, a go-to resource for home entertaining, is taking hosting to the next level this holiday season with a limited-time only tablescape, inspired by the Absolut Espresso Martini. The beautifully designed tablescape features essentials for every holiday host planning an elegant night with friends and family, including: a table runner, dinnerware, glassware including martini glasses, candles, votives, exclusive hosting tips & tricks, and more.

In addition, The Glenlivet​, is taking the reins on holiday hassles with the launch of The Glenlivet Holiday Concierge - a premium service dedicated to helping consumers seize the season. In partnership with creative artist, designer and entrepreneur, Jessica Walsh, The Glenlivet Holiday Concierge will provide solutions to ease some of the top holiday stressors, offering winners the opportunity to kick back and enjoy the holidays with a cocktail in hand - leaving pesky to-dos to the pros. Concierge services will include: Holiday Personal Shopping Experience, Curated Holiday Bar Cart, and Luxe Entertaining Kits.  

BD: Moving beyond the holiday period , what are the biggest trends we’re going to see in spirits in 2022?

JB: We expect to see strong growth in spirits in 2022, especially via ready-to-drink cocktails, tequila and whiskeys.  

RTDs will expand in entries and volume, and we will most definitely see some new brands enter this space. In 2020, there were 25 million cases of spirits-based RTDs sold in the US and spirits based RTDs are growing at a rate of over 200% . We’ve seen tremendous innovation and transformation in the ready-to-drink category over the past several years. The RTD category is shaking up the alcohol marketplace and blurring the lines between the traditional beer, wine and spirits categories – and we anticipate more of this in 2022.

Tequila also continues to rise, and we expect that it will soon lead the growth of the mainstream spirits category. Since 2002, Tequila volumes have grown 180%, an average rate of 6.2% per year. In 2019 alone, 20.1 million 9-liter cases were sold. (DISCUS)

We also see American whiskey booming. In 2019, overall sales grew 10.8% to $4bn. Sales of premium brands grew 37% while sales of super-premium grew 147% (DISCUS). Sales within PRUSA’s portfolio of premium and super-premium brands are growing significantly as well. In 2020, sales for Pernod Ricard’s premium and super-premium North American whiskies were up 46%. This indicates an upward trajectory that we see continuing in the coming year- both off-premise, and with the continued return of the on-premise as well.

BD: What’s your take on tequila? Is this category as exciting as we’re led to believe?

JB: Tequila continues to both premiumize and fuel overall category growth, as consumers are increasingly choosing premium tequilas in both off- and on-premise scenarios. Whereas tequila was previously just an ingredient in a margarita, now it is enjoyed more and more in sophisticated cocktail choices, as well as neat or on the rocks.

Tequila was the most popular spirit in 2020 and it’s still one of the fastest-growing spirits categories and has only been increasing in popularity. According to The Pernod Ricard Market View, The Super Premium Tequila + Mezcal segment is expected to outgrow the category in the next five years.

BD: We haven't seen a hard seltzer from Pernod Ricard USA yet...

John Barrett pernod ricard
John Barrett, chief commercial officer, Pernod Ricard USA

JB: While not categorized as ‘hard seltzers’, Pernod Ricard does offer ready-to-drink cocktails utilizing our original spirits to meet consumer demand for convenience without compromising quality. In May 2020, we launched Absolut Vodka Sodas and Absolut Cocktails, a range of vodka sodas and cocktails crafted using original Absolut Vodka and made with natural flavors for a convenient consumer cocktail experience.

Absolut Vodka Sodas are ready-to-enjoy mixed drinks inspired by the classic cocktail with unique flavor combinations. As a premium offering, the Absolut Cocktail ready-to-drink line has flavor for every palette, balancing original Absolut Vodka with refreshing fruit flavors.

We have also recently introduced Malibu Cocktails in a Can, a new range of refreshingly tasty and high-quality premium canned cocktails made with natural flavors and the brand’s signature real Caribbean rum. Malibu Cocktails in a Can offer fans the opportunity to bring their favorite drinks to any get-together, no matter the season.

*Retailmenot Top Shopping Trends 2021

** Kantar Holiday Predictions 2021

*** *SipSource 2021 holiday trend data

Related topics: Beer, Wine, Spirits, Cider

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