Compiled by the spirits giant and The Future Laboratory, the annual Bacardi Cocktails Trends Report draws on both external research and Bacardi’s consumer surveys and bartender insights.
The pandemic years have seen consumers' interest in cocktails - especially cocktails at home - grow. But 2023 doesn't look like being a return to pre-pandemic trends: instead, the industry is evolving in a much more complex way.
"Geopolitical uncertainty, a widening economic gulf, and an unceasing climate crisis may have prevented the respite that 2022 promised, but in doing so they have focused minds toward making 2023 the start of transformational change," says Bacardi. "Future-facing brands are seeking to create a counter-push to doomsayers, short-termism, indifference, and helplessness, instead re-establishing common ground and embarking on journeys of radical progression".
New experiences continue to be a key way to win round consumers; but expect to see virtual and digital experimentation reach a new level in 2023. Here are Bacardi’s macro-trends defining how, what, where, and why consumers will be sipping spirits in 2023.
1. Pleasure Revolution
Consumers will turn away from convention, instead seeking new experiences in their drinking occasions, says Bacardi.
As a result, expect to see fresh ingredients and fun and frivolous flavors come to the fore as people experiment at home and out in traditional and new cocktail consumption venues.
“This trend is already in play, as evidenced by data from the Bacardi Consumer Survey conducted in October 2022, where the daiquiri, margarita, and bloody mary were among the cocktails people most frequently ordered and created globally,” notes Bacardi.
“The desire for experimentation is seeing the popularity of cocktails soar, with 37% of people surveyed globally now making more cocktails at home vs. 2020 and more than 30% drinking more cocktails than wine and beer.”
2. Transformational Tastes
2023 will ‘unleash an era where people will redefine when and where they celebrate and with which cocktails and flavors’.
For example, hybrid working means nearly 40% of people in the US and UK now choose to enjoy their spirits and cocktails earlier in the evening.
"This shift is leading to a rise in the orders for spicy drinks, with tequila and vodka-based cocktails finding affinity with bolder flavors, with ingredients like jalapeño and tabasco. Bitter flavors also remain popular, with more than 30% of bartenders looking to ingredients such as coffee and aromatic bitters, and to ferments including kombucha and kefir," says Bacardi.
As economic uncertainty and reverberations from the pandemic continue, consumers will seek out cocktails that transport them back to better times (a recent Mintel study suggests that consumers aged 25-44 are most likely to enjoy things that remind them of the past).
What does that mean for cocktails? “People will seek styles and flavors that transport their memories back in time, enjoying classic sips like the martini, negroni, highball, and old fashioned but elevated with a twist,” says Bacardi.
3. Virtual Experimentation
The growth of e-commerce in the alcohol industry is expected to continue in 2023, with it now becoming a firm fixture of many consumers' lives. In the US, 31% plan on increasing the use of online delivery services to deliver cocktails to their door in the next year, according to Bacardi's research.
But digital has the potential to go way beyond e-commerce: “The digital realm has proved advantageous for drink technology, providing unique paths to discovery, creation, and enjoyment. 2023 will see the continued acceleration of on-demand drinks and experiences thanks to the convenience of digital commerce,” says Bacardi.
“With their intrinsic openness, digital spaces have the potential to create new paths to drinks education and experimentation, with forward-thinking brands using gamification strategies to make such concepts even more engaging.
"Technology research firm Gartner predicts that by 2026 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse to work, shop, socialize or consume entertainment, and spirits brands will continue to explore web3 experiences as a way of deepening desire with existing audiences and attracting new ones.”
4. Sophisticated Sips
Quality over quantity has been the mantra in the spirits industry for years: and in 2023 Bacardi sees the next step of this evolution with minimalism emerging as a trend in premium venues where the focus is on showcasing quality ingredients that shine in simpler serves.
72% of bartenders say they’re seeing the most premiumization within tequila, followed by single malts, aged rum, and mezcal. The popularity of rum-based cocktails is driving growth and premiumization across this spirit segment, with the Bacardi Global Brand Ambassador Survey 2022 revealing that 32% of bartenders expect to see increased premiumization in aged rums over the next year.
5. Conscious Cocktails
As the mindful drinking movement matures, Bacardi expects to see consumers demand similar values from the brands they interact with, encouraging ongoing moves toward sustainability and community-building within the industry.
There’s two key areas where this is most pronounced: packaging sustainability and the continued rise of the low and no alcohol category. For example, more than half of respondents stated that recyclable packaging was crucial to their liquor and spirit considerations. This mindset also expands to alcohol consumption, with a new category of NoLo (no and low alcohol) drinkers emerging.
“Those who enjoy NoLo drinks in place of full strength on certain occasions, or even the same night, will continue to grow in numbers. Interest in NoLo will also expand in new markets outside the U.K. and U.S., with 57% of respondents globally stating they will participate in Dry January and/or Sober October in 2023," says Bacardi.
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