With almost 20% growth in sales of mixers in the last year, the growing trend for making cocktails at home presents a great sales and profit opportunity for retailers prepared to make it easy for shoppers.
Ever since the recession first took hold, the number of shoppers shunning a visit to the local pub or restaurant in favour of a night in at home with friends or family has rocketed. Not great news for pubs – the latest CAMRA data shows an astonishing 29 pubs close every week – but the collapse has presented an opportunity for retailers.
One of the most significant growth areas has been home cocktail making. While it’s all but impossible to accurately measure how much this phenomenon has grown in homes across Scotland, it is possible to nonetheless have a go by considering the growth in the mixers category, products that are obviously purchased purposely for making mixed drinks.
The stunning rise of gin as a category also points to significant growth in home cocktail making as few drinkers will consume gin straight.
Simon Harrison, Customer Marketing Director at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), says: “Research shows an increasing number of Brits are choosing to stay in when enjoying a tipple, with more than half of drinking occasions taking place in the home [University of Sheffield, April 2016]. Cocktails are enjoyed in bars by more than half of consumers [CGA Mixed Drinks Report, 2016], and now people are looking to recreate their favourite drinks without having to leave the house. This trend is reflected by the 19.4% growth in mixer sales in the last year [Nielsen, Jul 2017].”
Great news for retailers as cocktails are fantastic basket-spend builders being, by definition, multi-item drinks. Yet while customers are saving money by not heading to the pub, there is evidence that they like to compensate by treating themselves to a little affordable luxury at home when making cocktails which means one thing: premium spirits and mixers, which tend to carry premium profit margins for retailers.
“Premium mixers have benefitted from the popularity of premium spirits and the consumer trend to try new experiences and flavours,” says Harrison. “However, in grocery and convenience 80% of mixers sold in the last year did not fall within this premium mixer segment. There is still a huge consumer desire for a classic, good quality mixer. Shoppers choose brands they recognise and trust, which is why Schweppes remains the number one mixer brand accounting for 38% of all mixers sold in grocery and convenience in the last year.”
But is it still all about the gin? Harrison doesn’t think so: “Dark spirits are experiencing a surge in popularity, with premium dark rum performing particularly well. The iconic taste of Coca-Cola Classic marries perfectly with dark spirits and is traditionally the go-to mixer. Increasingly health-conscious consumers are looking for low calorie and low sugar options, but without compromising on taste. Coca-Cola Zero Sugar is an appealing option for those who want a dark spirit mixer that replicates the taste of Coca-Cola Classic but without the calories. This trend is underlined by the soaring popularity of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, which is now the fastest growing cola brand in GB, worth £148m [Nielsen, Jul 2017].”
One great way to drive basket spend and help shoppers indulge their home cocktail-making ambitions is by merchandising spirits and mixers together on shelf, taking advantage of the fact that soft drinks is the only other category retailers in Scotland can site in the alcohol sections in their stores.
“Spirit and mixer gifting is growing in popularity with more bays and aisle ends dedicated to such displays, especially around key calendar moments like Christmas,” says Harrison. “Mixers are also more commonly merchandised alongside spirits to tie in with seasonal promotions. Moving towards Christmas, [Schweppes] will run various gift-with-purchase promotions that help deliver serves that are intrinsically linked with spirits such as glassware and botanical packs helping consumers create their perfect mixed drink with Schweppes in the home whilst adding theatre to the occasion.”