Cocktails Enjoy a Renaissance

Consumers are thirsty to see more ready-to-drink alcohol options at their local c-stores.

November 25, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Ever notice how many more convenience stores are carrying wine, beer and even spirits? “We’re in a golden age of cocktail renaissance,” said Brandy Rand, COO Americas at IWSR, on this week’s Convenience Matters podcast, “Making Spirits Bright.” “When you look at the growth of spirits, it’s been stealing share from beer and even wine, year over year. … Look at the number of new brands and categories and flavors and the cocktail culture that has evolved over the past 20 years.”

The ready-to-drink alcohol category has exploded in recent years, including new products like canned cocktails. “Consumers have become much more curious, much more educated and much more open to things like alternative packaging and demand for flavors,” Rand said. “In particularly during COVID, we’ve seen huge growth—double, triple digits—not only in ready-to-drink and hard seltzers, but also in canned cocktails.”

At-home consumption of alcohol has risen during the pandemic. “Again, this has been happening for many, many years,” Rand said. “We’re seeing the acceleration of that existing trend. … We went through this evolution of people making an Old Fashioned [at home] … to if I can get an Old Fashioned in a can, … that’s OK, too. There’s been a democratization across beverage alcohol that’s really exciting and also a reflection of consumer behavior and the times we’re in.”

The take-home sales can be positioned to create an experience at home or in small gatherings, where people are bringing their own refreshments because of COVID-19. “We’ve seen growth in single-serve or small sizes,” Rand said. “The experience has been a huge driver of alcoholic beverage trends in terms of the quality of the product, the presentation and the discovery of new brands and flavors.”

Rand also pointed out how social media is driving these trends. “People are sharing the things they are discovering. … It’s become a huge part of the experience,” she said.

Listen for more about wine, beer and spirits at convenience stores here. Read the full IWSR full report. Each week a new Convenience Matters episode is released. With more than 200 episodes to choose from, the podcast can be heard on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and other podcast apps and YouTube and at Episodes have been downloaded more than 130,000 times by listeners around the world.

NACS Magazine explored the trend of adult beverages in cans in the July 2020 feature, “Can-demonium.” Read it free as a digital pdf here.