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Introduction to diving:

  • Despite the easing of pandemic-related restrictions, alcohol consumption at home is still present, largely due to an increase in premixed and ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktail options, According to a new study by IRI.
  • Despite record inflation and supply chain woes, alcohol price increases have remained relatively steady compared to other CPG categories. However, labor shortages, downsizing menus and rising prices have negatively impacted the recovery in local consumption.
  • In addition to strong growth in RTD cocktails, “better-for-you” and alternative alcohol products also saw impressive growth. Growth was fueled by increased spending on high-end and ultra-premium products despite economic concerns, the report said.

Dive Insights:

In one example of pandemic-driven behavioral change with lasting impact, canned cocktails Popularity rises during quarantinewhich continues to drive industry growth despite the reopening of bars and restaurants IRI’s Research. Other factors driving consumer trends are consumers addicted to premium alcohol and eager to create entertainment experiences at home, so they crave ‘better for you’ alcoholic beverages.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a dramatic shift in consumer behavior in many ways, including avoiding bars and drinking cocktails at home. For the most part, it’s unclear which changes will last, in part because of the sense of uncertainty brought on by the new variants, despite a broad push to return to pre-pandemic normalcy. However, IRI research shows that drinking at home still retains its appeal to consumers.

One reason may be that the alcohol industry appears to have largely avoided price spikes during times of high inflation. Over the past two years, the price of ready-to-drink cocktails has risen 4.7%, beer has risen 1.9%, wine has risen only 1.1%, and spirits have fallen 0.6%. These increases were well below the 10% increase in carbonated soft drinks and 8.3% in energy drinks during the same period.

“Consumer trends continue to fluctuate with the impact of supply chain challenges and rising inflation, but growth opportunities remain,” Scott Scanlon, executive vice president of beverage alcohol at IRI, said in a release. “Consumers want to enjoy and create entertainment experiences at home, and retailers should emphasize premium products and products with unique attributes in this space.”

While consumers find ways to make a dollar go further in many areas, alcoholic beverages don’t seem to be one of them. Premium beer accounted for 34.8% of all beer sales in the past 52 weeks, compared to 31.3% two years ago. Value beer accounted for 50.9% of sales, down from 54.7% two years ago. Fine wines also saw an increase, from 21.5% of sales two years ago to 24.2% in the past 52 weeks.

Consumers’ emphasis on health and wellness has also greatly influenced habits, with sales of “better-for-you” alcohol alternatives increasing by 20.1% from 2021 to 2022. Sales of low- and no-alcohol products rose 6 percent over the same period.

Local alcoholic beverage sales are slowly recovering. In the first quarter of 2019, local alcoholic beverage sales totaled $193,100. In the first quarter of 2022, that number drops to $145,200. That’s still an improvement from the first quarter of 2021, with internal sales totaling $127,400.Recovery times and severity vary widely by region Compared to the first quarter of 2020, local liquor sales in California increased 13%, while the Northeast declined 18%.

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