"This year's report found adult beverage consumers adapting to a post-pandemic world, while experiencing the impacts of inflation," said Liz Paquette, Drizly's Head of Consumer Insights. "And overall, this survey, along with purchase patterns on Drizly, found that consumer preferences are changing when it comes to beer, wine, and spirits.”
Millennials shun bars and restaurants
One of the biggest macro trends seen in 2023, says alcohol e-commerce platform Drizly (which surveyed 1,001 adult drinkers across 40 states last month), is a return to drinking at home.
“Where consumers are drinking is changing amid inflation: nearly one-in-four (22%) respondents say they’ll opt to drink from home more often in 2023 versus 2022 than at bars/restaurants.
“In fact, millennials plan to skip bars/restaurants the most this year, with 33% planning to drink more at home in 2023.”
However, this doesn’t mean consumers want to extend their cost-cutting to trading down their drinks.
In fact, 45% of survey takers reported they are drinking more expensive or premium beer, wine, and spirits at home versus at bars/restaurants (34%). Interestingly, 36% of respondents say they’ll continue to pay a premium for wine, 27% will pay premium prices for dark liquor, and 26% for light liquor.
And alongside that, the pandemic trend of self-bartending is back in fashion.
“This year’s survey found one-in-five respondents (19%) are planning to give their bartending skills a whirl more often in 2023 compared to 2022. And 28% of those surveyed have a home bar set up with the majority (63%) saying they restock it once a month or more.”
Women are more likely to change their habits than men. Nearly 60% of female respondents say that inflation has affected how often they go out to bars/restaurants and the number of drinks they have once there, compared to 50% of men. And 46% of female survey takers say they’ll spend more on premium beer, wine or spirits to drink at home versus 42% of men.
‘Home is where the party is’
But with the return to at home drinking, consumers don’t want to miss out on fun with friends – it looks like they will become more sociable and bring the party into the home.
“21% of respondents stated they plan to host friends and family at home more often this year compared to 2022, and nearly half (47%) of those surveyed are planning to invite friends and family into their homes as often as they did in 2022,” reports Drizly.
“Backyard barbecues (46%) topped the list of events survey takers plan to host at home this year, followed by casual get togethers (44%), holiday gatherings (41%), birthday bashes (39%), and dinner parties (29%). Gen Z and millennial respondents are especially eager to host in 2023 with 34% and 31% of respondents wanting to do more of it this year versus 2022, respectively, compared to Gen X (18%) and boomers (12%).”
When hosting at home, nearly half (47%) of those surveyed say they supply the drinks. How much they spend depends on the size of the party: for small gatherings of five people or less, most people spend up to $100 on alcohol (68%); for casual get togethers with five to 10 guests, most spend up to $150 (62%); and for bigger parties with 10+ guests, most spend up to $300 (61%); with another 13% spending $300 or more.
Changing trends for RTDs
RTDs have been rocketing in popularity, particularly associated as a summer drink. But in fact, Drizly points to a year-over-year decrease in RTDs as a summer drink with category sales becoming more evenly spread over the year.
“While RTDs have seemingly followed the same blueprint as hard seltzer’s explosive trajectory over the past few years, the newness may be wearing off and consumers could be starting to see RTDs as a year round staple and not just a warm weather go-to.
“The continued growth potentially may be due to the diversification of the RTD category versus hard seltzer, with so many subcategories — from margarita and mojito RTDs, to martini, cosmopolitan, and mixed drink RTDs. This range within the subcategory subsequently lends itself to different types of occasions throughout the year: whether it's poolside sipping, or holiday parties and tailgating.”
These behaviors also follow sales figures on Drizly, where RTDs saw year-over-year share increases in 2022 during seasons outside of spring/summer: including a 41% increase in share in October-December 2022 compared to the same time period in 2021 and a 38% increase in share in January-March 2022 versus those same months in 2021.
So what are consumer looking for this summer instead of RTDs?
“Consumers are poised to go back to the basics as the weather gets warmer, with survey takers voicing lower interest in the portable drinks that have been in vogue over the past few summers.
“22% of respondents will be sipping on RTDs as their top drink for summer 2023, a whopping 17 percentage point decrease from summer 2022. Not far behind, 21% of those surveyed plan to reach for hard seltzer this summer and 14% for hard alternatives (i.e. hard lemonade, hard iced tea) - both experiencing decreases year-over-year with 4 and 2 percentage point drops, respectively.
“Alternatively, consumers are embracing the classics as they show heightened interest in tried-and-true drinks for summer 2023: light liquor (34%), white wine (28%), and light lager beer (23%), all enjoying a 2 percentage point increase in popularity year-over-year.”
A surprise is that 31% of respondents plan to reach for red wine as their go-to summer drink — an 8 percentage point increase from 2022.
“More survey takers crowned red wine (31%) their top summer sip, ranking it above the typical white wine (28%) and rosé (17%), and potentially signaling a shift in how consumers view red wine. In fact, Drizly has seen lighter body red varieties, like Lambrusco and Gamay, rising in the ranks and experiencing share increases on the platform from May-August over the past few years.”
Zero proof fun
The desire to try non-alcoholic (NA) beverages continues to climb with half of respondents having tried NA beer, wine or spirits.
"The NA category is sparking the most interest amongst Gen Z (23%) and millennials (24%) who have tried these drinks more frequently than other generations, as well as men (14%), who reported drinking NA beer, wine or spirits more often than women (9%). While NA beer may be the most preferred zero-proof drink of the moment according to those surveyed, looking forward, respondents are most curious to try NA ready-to-drink cocktails (17%) and NA wine (14%) in 2023."