Consumer demand for ready-to-drink cocktails purchased online and at retail locations shows no sign of tapering off—a trend that’s impacting not only hard seltzers but traditional spirits.
On alcohol ecommerce platform Drizly, RTD products represented 2.8% of sales in the past 12 months—up from 1.1% in 2020.
Hard seltzers had 3.6% of sales in 2020, compared to 2.7% most recently.
“Though it is difficult to say for sure, the correlation between the rise of ready-to-drink share with the declining share of hard seltzer in the past year is clear,” Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights, wrote in a report this month.
Three top attributes consumers seek in RTDs are high quality, easy to enjoy and highly portable.
While RTDs range from full-strength cocktails to lower-alcohol-by-volume options that can compete with hard seltzers, premiumization has defined the trajectory across the board.
The average unit price of RTDs on Drizly over the past 12 months was $13.80, up 9.5% from the $12.60 average sale price seen the previous 12 months.
Within the overall spirits category on the platform, RTDs had a 6.2% percent share in the past 12 months—making it the fourth-largest category after whiskey, vodka, and tequila.
The top four RTD brands on Drizly have remained the same since 2021: High Noon (E. & J. Gallo), Cutwater Spirits (Anheuser-Busch), On The Rocks (Beam Suntory) and privately held Jose Cuervo.
The RTD category not only has staying power, wrote Paquette, but its share will continue to increase: “It is a small but growing piece of the total liquor category and we believe there is still room for continued growth.”
On the retail side, spirit sales have substantially lagged those of RTD drinks since January, according to channels tracked by NielsenIQ.
“And while growth in prepared cocktails presents opportunities for the major spirits operators, they also represent a competitive headwind” as RTDs “may be displacing higher-margin spirits occasions,” investment firm TD Cowen noted in a report issued today.