As the COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly returning and a certain sheen of normality returns, Americans are ready to celebrate the approaching summer. Many postponed parties and gatherings are back, bars and restaurants are open again, as are the casual gatherings that often mark our social life.
Recently, I sat down with Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insight, to talk about what trends they see in what Americans drink, and by extension, how they celebrate, in terms of drinks, their summer.
Drizly is an alcohol e-commerce platform that allows users to order a range of beers, wines and spirits directly from local retailers via a mobile app or website. During the pandemic, Drizly and other web-based e-commerce platforms experienced explosive growth. They also emerged as an early indicator of the development of consumer trends.
JM: Drizly is often ahead of the curve in experiencing development trends. What trends are you currently seeing and how does total sales compare to the same period in May 2019? How much of this is drawn from Drizly’s growth and the impact of the pandemic, and how much is the result of higher consumption?
LP: A big vodka comeback, canned cocktails bursting even bigger and Champagne flowing as if on New Year’s Eve. Hard seltzer also continues to explode. Drizly’s latest data show that these trends are heating up as the mother of all summers grows near.
Drizly has seen triple-digit growth in May 2021 to date compared to May 2019, this growth is a result of the increased awareness and legality of e-commerce and alcohol supply, which was further driven by the pandemic.
JM: How does champagne sales compare to the period before the pandemic? Which brands sell best?
LP: Celebration equals bubbles, and with the explosion of special occasions like weddings, dimensions and more, expect the summer of 2021 to spring out like a roaring 20-cork!
In 2021 to date, Champagne’s share of sparkling wine is 62% compared to 50% in the same time period in 2019 (pre-pandemic). The best-selling Champagne brands in 2021 to date are Veuve Clicquot, Moet & Chandon, Dom Perignon, Perrier-Jouet and Nicolas Feuillatte.
JM: Is the growth of sparkling wine limited to champagne, or is it across the board?
LP: Across the board, the share of sparkling wine in 2021 to date (22% of total wine sales) has exceeded the last two years. In addition to Champagne, another standout in the sparkling wine category is sparkling rosé wine, both from Champagne and elsewhere. The category has so far experienced stock gains year over year in 2021.
JM: Botanically flavored vodkas are the new trend in vodka. How do these compare to flavored? What are the most popular botanical brands and flavors?
LP: Botanically flavored vodkas fall into the Drizly category of flavored vodkas, which have seen share growth within the overall vodka category over the past two years.
Especially infused vodkas take fire, gently kissed by flowers and fruit – perfect for summer in light cocktails or alone.
The best-selling vodkas with botanical flavor in 2021 to date are Ketel One Botanicals including grapefruit and rose, peach and orange blossom and cucumber and mint.
Also honest organic strawberry vodka, Absolute Juice Pear & Elderflower Vodka and SVEDKA Pure Infusions Dragon Fruit Melon Aroma Vodka are also popular.
JM: Any trends in alcohol content, taste or calories in the Seltzer room?
LP: In the tough seltzer space, we’ve seen growth in expanded flavors like agave-based beverages like cactus and Lone River Ranch Water. In addition, flavors from other hard alternative subcategories such as lemonade and iced tea have been crossed into the hard seltzer category with new product innovations such as Bud Light Lemonade Hard Seltzer or White Claw Hard Seltzer Iced Tea.
JM: Who uses hard seltzer?
LP: Hard seltzer skewed towards younger consumers than Drizly in general, the age group 21-34 accounts for 60% of the hard seltzer share against 39% of the total Drizly share.
JM: What trends in RTD are there around alcohol content and taste? What are the most popular brands?
LP: Putting High Noon aside, agave-based RTDs and most specifically margarita-oriented RTDs make up a significant portion of top sellers on Drizly. Some of the other more popular flavors in general include watermelon and pineapple. From a brand’s perspective, many independent growth drives – CANTEEN, Long Drink, Ranch Rider, Two Chicks. High Noon and OTR continue to dominate. ABI’s Cutwater has also experienced significant growth year over year.
JM: Who consumes Ready to Drink Cocktails (RTD)?
LP: While the RTD consumer generally looks a little younger than Drizly, it is not as significant as the hard seltzer, as the age group 21-34 accounts for 50% of the RTD share compared to 39% of the total Drizly share. This suggests that with the wide range of spirits ingredients, flavor and packaging offerings, RTDs appeal to a wider audience than tough seltzer.
JM: Thank you.