Foreseeing a spirits world transformed by two years of pandemic-based drinking, the 2022 Bacardi Cocktail Trends Report from the spirits giant and independent consultancy The Future Laboratory (TFL) sees continued shifts in such areas as types of drinks and flavors consumers want, imbibing occasions, ethical considerations and ways of creating cocktails.
After spending much of the past two years at home “experimenting with cocktail creations and learning more about the spirits they enjoy,” 75% of U.S. consumers say high-quality cocktails are now important, the report found. In addition, 50% of bartenders globally say their customers are now drinking more premium brands.
The top-trending on-premise spirit, according to 76% of U.S. bartenders, is tequila, up from just 16% a year ago. Demand is being driven by a shift in how the spirit is perceived -- “from a party spirit to a sophisticated sipping serve.”
Off-premise, Bacardi found 14% of consumers worldwide tried Ready-To-Drink cocktails for the first time during the past 12 months, with 80% of U.S. consumers planning to drink RTDs in 2022.
“The category will continue its ascent in 2022 as it unshackles itself from the bright, sticky, and cheap concoctions that defined its birth. Look forward to beautiful packaging, challenging flavor profiles, and quality ingredients superbly calculated for maximum enjoyment,” said Chris Sanderson, co-founder, TFL.
The pandemic has also brought mixology into homes, with Bacardi stating that a third more U.S. consumers have learned to make new spirit-based cocktails compared to a year ago, with more than 65% of U.S. consumers now using an online service to purchase alcohol, and half of households owning a cocktail shaker, jigger and strainer.
While a year ago, Instagram was “fostering new drinking cultures, now it’s all about TikTok, with cocktail content thriving,” Bacardi stated.
On the ecommerce marketing side, the report expects a rise in third-party services offering “novel fulfillment options that meet enhanced expectations.” These will include “static mailboxes reimagined as multifunctional storage for deliveries and returns,” brands turning logistics hubs into spaces for consumers to experience new products while picking up packages, and services that provide greater transparency through real-time order tracking.
While recyclability and zero-waste cocktails formed the thrust of sustainable action in 2021, the new year“will see more initiatives shaped by a focus on how spirits are made,” with consumers demanding “innovative, ethical, long-term solutions that deliver real social change,” Bacardi reported.
One foreseen trend will be hyper-local delivery going mainstream “as consumers seek to balance their desire for convenience with a quest for sustainable solutions.”
In the U.S., one-third of consumers plan to drink more cocktails with natural ingredients, “with new focus placed on ethical sourcing and sustainable farming,” Bacardi said. U.S. bartenders echoed this view, saying that working more with local partners and businesses will be their top priority in 2022.
The appreciation for nature is reflected in ingredients that are trending. According to U.S. bartenders, aromatics are their the top-trending ingredient, followed by fresh fruit, herbs, coffee, and natural juices. And more than a third of consumers said that fresh fruit and berries were the top ingredients they add to cocktails.Finally, Bacardi reported that consumption itself is transforming, with 58% of global consumers drinking more non-alcoholic and low-alcohol beverages (low-ABV) than a year ago.
“Sober-curious people,” defined as “those who are intrigued by the full spectrum of 0-50% ABV cocktails and desire a broader portfolio of choices” – are set to increase in number through 2022. “In the same way that flexitarians take a fluid approach to vegan and vegetarian diets,” Bacardi stated,” “sober-curious consumers are increasingly happy to switch between sober nights and drinking occasions.”
“Flexitarian drinking represents a new direction in the drinks market,” said Sanderson, “and the impact of an increasingly influential sober-curious cohort will manifest in new offerings and on-premise in 2022.”
The 2022 Cocktail Trends Report draws on insights from Bacardi-led consumer and brand ambassador surveys, interviews with the bar and restaurant trade, Nielsen CGA data, and TFL research.