Booze, Bev Forecast: RTD, Non-Alcoholic Grows, Beer Faces Rebound


If alcohol delivery platform Drizly’s predictions are any guide, 2024 will see the continuation of last year’s buzziest trends, along with one struggling category’s reversal of fortunes.

The company recently released its "5 Drink Trends To Watch in 2024” report, based on a survey of 1,000 drinking-age adults about what they plan to purchase in the coming year, as well as platform sales data for 2023.

Among the predicted trends for 2024 is a return to growth for the beer category, due largely to the resurgent popularity of light lagers -- reversing a five-year pattern. Beer’s overall share of sales has fallen on the platform, from 18% in 2019 to 14% in 2023.

While the share of respondents saying they planned to buy beer in 2024 was up only marginally -- 68% compared to 67% -- interest in light lager is strong: 43% of consumers anticipated purchasing the sub-category in 2024, compared to 38% the previous year, while light lager’s share of platform sales rose from 18% to 19.5% over the last three months of 2023 compared to the year prior.



Light lagers’ rise corresponds with another sub-category decline -- one also fueling the read-to-drink (RTD) cocktail trend.

“Hard seltzer’s share has been on the decline for the past two years,” Drizly Head of Consumer Insights Liz Paquette said in a statement. “Part of this is driven by the rise in ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails as well as renewed interest in light lager, which compete closely with the hard seltzer category.

According to Drizly, the number of RTD cocktail producers on the platform increased 47% in 2023 to more than 1,000, while representing 3% of sales on the platform – overtaking hard seltzer, which represented 2% of sales. Paquette cited the breadth of options, a related trend in the rising popularity of cocktails and ingredient transparency as contributing to the category’s popularity.

Thirty-four percent of respondents in the survey said they plan to purchase RTD cocktails in 2024, a slight increase from 32% last year. Notably, for brands and marketers, the majority of those who plan to buy RTD cocktails in 2024 said they plan to try new brands.

So what are consumers looking for in an RTD cocktail? The top factors, according to Drizly, are either a cocktail consumers already love or were looking to try, a recommendation from someone close to them, price point, and existing brand affinity with a spirits brand they enjoy.

Mocktails are also having a moment.

2023 was a big year for the non-alcoholic category, with the category growing 62% year-over-year on Drizly, and its market share up 167% according to Paquette. Sixty-three percent of survey respondents said they have previously tried an option from the category or plan to purchase one in 2024, with one third specifically citing plans to purchase a mocktail product.

As inflation eases, its impact on the alcohol industry will dissipate. Consumers are already reluctant to change their purchasing behaviors. Despite cost increases, 40% said they didn’t plan to make any changes to their drink-buying behaviors, an increase from 5% from the previous year. Drinkers are still looking for bargains, though, with 35% saying they intended to proactively shop for deals in 2024 – in line with 34% last year.

One of the fastest-growing categories for Drizly over the past five years, tequila represented 19% of the liquor category last year. Overall the category growth slowed, as it represented the same percentage the year prior, but consumers are increasingly reaching for tequila options from the top shelf, with more expensive reposado tequila gaining share over silver/blanco. Tequilas priced at over $100 per bottle represented over a quarter (26%) of sales in the category on Drizly for 2023.

Survey respondents drove home the premiumization trend in the category. Among those who planned to purchase tequila in 2024, 19% said they anticipated spending $200 or more per bottle -- the second most common response, after the $25$-49 price range.

“We believe the trend of sipping tequila versus using it as a cocktail ingredient is one of the key drivers of this trend as more premium products are typically associated with this use case,” Paquette said. “Increased consumer knowledge of the category as well as role as gifts have also contributed to the trend.”

To that point, over one quarter of tequila drinkers planned to purchase tequila to sip in 2024, with 74% planning to mix it into cocktails.


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