Ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails, which started out as the quick, pick-me-up alcoholic drinks before the Covid-19 pandemic, have evolved to become a much preferred drink option – with the single-serve can format and wide assortment of flavours adding to the “cool” factor.
In the last couple of years, RTD cocktails have seen insane growth, especially among Millennials and the younger crowd. One of the fastest growing alcohol beverage segments, the volume of sales has increased 226% in a span of only 4 years (2016-21).
The established craft brands were the first to get onto the bandwagon, creating exceptional taste experiences in alcoholic drinks. Creative taste is the buzzword in alcoholic beverages, and consumers continue to express appetite for trying something new, different, and exciting.
Neilson IQ’s off-premise data that measures RTD across malts, spirits and wine shows exceptional growth across the category’s US$ 9.6 billion sales in both 2021 and 2022. Established brands competing with newer ones are increasingly focussing on premium ingredients, great taste and tied to a broader consumer calling of ‘made for you’ products.
Convenience and quality are becoming essential criteria for most RTD brands, a fact visible in drinks available in pick-me-up cans, which are hygienic, stable and yet refreshing. While people love bartender-quality drinks, they don’t like to bartend themselves.
Pre-mixed drinks with refreshing flavours enjoy huge popularity among Millennials. Among the major factors that are driving the demand for RTD cocktails are new consumer flavour preferences.
Citrus flavours are now coming in exciting pairings – for example lemon and mint, sweet lime and peach. A flavour that will never go out of consumer’s palates is zingy citrus. Moreover, new pairings are lending exciting layers of taste to citrus.
Consumers of the day are keen to experiment with bolder, refreshing flavours such as starfruit and lemon, dill pickle, cucumber and mint. As they get adventurous, many are trying out different, unusual flavour combinations that add a deeper punch to cocktails.
Cold brew coffees are increasingly finding favour in cocktails. Irish cream and coffee, mocha hard latte, kahlua espresso martini are just some of them that offer deep and complex notes of flavour; bitter and sweet, sour and dry.
Added creamy foam makes the whole experience of drinking, delicious, familiar and an instant perk-up.
Flavours such as cloves, turmeric and ginger can help in creating a ‘health halo’ while also helping in adding contrast and complexity to the taste experience. Beyond the pandemic, convenience, ‘low-touch’ format of canned drinks and demand for exceptional taste tastes will continue to elevate consumers’ drinking experience.
From innovative citrus flavour pairings to bold and adventurous spice and brown flavours, exciting flavour combinations backed by premium ingredients will drive the market for RTD cocktails.