LOUISVILLE, Ky. & ATLANTA—The Coca-Cola Company is partnering with Brown-Forman to release a Jack & Coke ready-to-drink cocktail, according to a news release. The beverage will be available in markets around the world, with initial launch planned for Mexico in late 2022.
“This relationship brings together two classic American icons to deliver consumers a taste experience they love in a way that is consistent, convenient and portable,” said Lawson Whiting, CEO and president of Brown-Forman Corp.
The global benchmark for alcohol beverage volume (ABV) is 5% but will vary depending on the market. A zero-sugar version of the beverage will also be available. The can and packaging will feature the Coca‑Cola and Jack Daniel’s logos.
“We keep consumers at the center of everything we do as we continue to develop our portfolio as a total beverage company, and that includes new products with our iconic Coca‑Cola brand,” said James Quincey, chairman and CEO of The Coca‑Cola Company. “We are excited about our new relationship with Brown-Forman and look forward to the introduction of Jack Daniel’s & Coca‑Cola.”
Coca-Cola and rival PepsiCo have been expanding into the alcoholic beverage market. Coca-Cola introduced Topo Chico hard seltzer and Simply Spiked Lemonade in partnership with Molson Coors. Coca-Cola and Constellation Brands also have partnered to create a spirit-based, ready-to-drink, canned cocktail under Coke’s FRESCA brand. PepsiCo will release a hard Mountain Dew this year, partnering with Boston Beer Co., and Anheuser Busch released a line of hard sodas.
The categories of alcoholic beverages and soft-drinks are beginning to blur as beverage companies cross lines to produce alcoholic versions of consumer-favorite sodas. Consumer demand soared for alcoholic seltzers, but NACS Daily reported last summer that the demand for hard seltzer has cooled. Now consumers are leaning towards stronger flavors, and brewers are trying out new fizzy drinks, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Canned cocktails are seeing fast growth, and the Journal reports that U.S. volumes of spirit-based premixed drinks increased 53% last year from a year earlier, double the rate of malt-based hard seltzers.
Ready-to-drink spirits represented $741 million in U.S. retail-store sales in 2021 through Dec. 25, more than double the sales over the same period a year earlier, according to an analysis of Nielsen data by Bump Williams Consulting.
“The pandemic has certainly accelerated the RTD category,” said Don Duebler, CEO of Atomic Brands, marketer of the Monaco brand, in a recent NACS Magazine article on the subject. “Consumers have engaged in the ease that these products offer, and that fits their new reality. The projection is that the category will continue to grow.”
The single-serve cocktails are ideal for c-stores, Duebler continued. “For this channel, the shopping mission of the consumer is something for the moment or on the go,” he explained. Still, multipacks are beginning to advance. “Today, we now have over 50% of c-stores selling four-packs,” he reported.
NACS State of the Industry data for 2021 revealed that one of the biggest movers and shakers in the overall liquor category is canned ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails.
“With all the movement between categories, retailers need to have an open mind when it comes to merchandising” RTD cocktails in the cold space, suggested Julie Farmer, adult beverage category manager, Circle K. “Pay attention to consumer trial and syndicated data—our customers will dictate what our cold box should look like,” she said.
Look for “Variety Is the Spice of Life” in the upcoming July issue of NACS Magazine, which covers how convenience retailers are turning to variety packs of hard seltzers and beer to quench consumer thirst for new products.