No matter what industry you work in, it’s likely that your customers’ spending habits have changed over the course of the pandemic. While some of those habits have since returned to their pre-pandemic states (for example, purchases of home tissue products have thankfully gone back to normal) — others have changed for good. One of those is around alcohol trends: looking at how, where, when, and what customers are buying. In this article, we’ll review the top five alcohol trends that are here to stay post-COVID, and what they mean for retailers, restaurants, and other businesses that sell alcohol.
1. Online ordering is on the rise
One of the biggest alcohol trends to emerge from the pandemic was online ordering. Stuck at home, customers quickly realized they could get alcohol delivered. According to the International Wine and Spirits Record, the number of consumers buying alcohol online more than doubled from 19% in 2019 to 44% in 2020. In 2021, DoorDash delivered more than 5.2 million orders that included alcohol.
While customers first started getting alcohol delivered in order to comply with regional shelter-in-place orders, they’ve kept up with online ordering due to the convenience factor. Alcohol consumption trends reflect this: a key example is ready-to-drink products, like canned cocktails, which are predicted to have the biggest growth in online sales — moving from 2% of total alcohol ecommerce in 2019 to an estimated 10% by 2024. Today, more than ever, customers are craving convenience — both in what they’re drinking, and how they’re ordering it.
Now is the time to meet your customers where they are: online. If you’re an alcohol retailer, consider signing up with an alcohol delivery partner like DoorDash to boost your online presence and reach new customers in your neighborhood.
2. Low-ABV keeps the party going
Along with convenience, another alcohol consumption trend that’s here to stay is the popularity of low-ABV and non-alcoholic beverages. Non-alcoholic beverage sales increased 33% to $331 million according to Nielsen, and ISWR expects the non-alcoholic spirits category to expand 35% by 2023.
As many people started to drink more during the pandemic, many of them realized they didn’t want such a strong drink — or to drink alcohol at all. Others began to look to low-ABV for the health benefits, and to be able to enjoy more beverages throughout an evening without the resulting hangover.
A variety of fun brands have popped up in response to the growing non-alcoholic beverage trend — low-ABV wines, natural wines, non-alcoholic beers, and more — meaning there’s no shortage of options for customers to explore. Consider stocking a handful of low- and no-ABV products so your customers can try them all.
“It's not just about abstinence from alcohol. This movement is also about people who just don’t want to drink as much. They want to enjoy some of the same flavors from alcoholic beverages, but without the hangover or other negative side effects.”
3. Funky flavors are a fan favorite
Hot on the heels of the low-ABV and no-ABV trend is the growing demand for unique flavored alcoholic beverages. No longer content to just drink the generic beers or classic wines previous generations favored, today’s consumers are also looking for trending alcoholic drinks that are fun, funky, and — above all — unique.
In response, a variety of exotic brands and products have hit the market: fruity alcoholic kombuchas, aromatic seltzers, boozy iced teas, CBD-spiked juices, craft brews, and more. In fact, IPAs, craft beers, specialty beers are all in the top five of the best-selling beer types on DoorDash. In the world of wine, unique options like orange wine, biodynamic farming, and no-additive wines are trending. The spirits and liquor market has also seen growth in the emergence of niche status categories, according to IWSR, including agave-based spirits, Irish whiskey, US whiskey, and Japanese whisky. There’s no limit to this alcohol consumption trend — customers are curious about anything and everything new.
As you plan your inventory, consider featuring products that highlight seasonal or regional trends. Ellie Dawson, an assistant manager at Yarmo Liquor in St. Paul, Minnesota, recently shared how she has trouble keeping fruit-flavored beverages on the shelf in the summer months. “People like anything that gives them a taste of summer,” she said. Strawberry, mango, and peach flavors are top-sellers.
4. Alcohol delivery helps restaurants and retailers drive profits
With loosening local alcohol retail laws during the pandemic, many cities and counties made it possible for restaurants and other retailers to offer alcohol delivery. Today, after seeing the positive effect on the local economy, many regions have made these changes permanent.
With supply chain issues and inflation making it difficult for restaurants to maintain revenue, adding alcohol to your menu can drive profitability due to the profit margin on alcohol sales. Looking at order data, DoorDash estimates that adding alcohol may increase restaurants’ and grocers’ average customer order values by up to 30% and convenience stores by over 50%.
If you’re considering signing up for convenience and alcohol delivery with DoorDash, do it. DoorDash brings you new customers from outside your regulars, and it’s extra revenue for your business. It’s allowed us to invest in a new refrigeration unit to help keep our delivery orders cold.
5. Creative solutions to challenging industry-wide issues
As the impact of supply chain issues and inflation has started to reach alcohol customers and producers in a myriad of ways, businesses have been getting creative.
For example, with Ball Corporation’s increase in minimum aluminum can ordering size, many manufacturers will be forced to consider alternative packaging, like making their own labels. Luckily the alcohol packaging industry is expanding, offering a wide variety of new options, including a focus on sustainable packing. Expect to see cans and bottles in new shapes and sizes, made of new eco-friendly materials, land on your shelves in the near future.
Alcohol producers are looking for new ways to use old waste. For example, wine brand Martha Stoumen decided to produce a line of piquette from this year’s grape harvest. Piquette, a low-alcohol wine made from the second pressings of grape pomace, is delicious and refreshing — and a creative way to turn trash into cash.
While creativity isn’t an alcohol trend so much as a response to a challenging trend all industries are facing, alcohol retailers can expect to see it have a major impact on products on their shelves — driving producers to create new, innovative, and delicious solutions.
A partner that supports you through every alcohol trend
As this year’s post-COVID alcohol trends continue to evolve, it’s important to find the right alcohol partner to drive sales. DoorDash offers a platform that’s continually evolving and growing to meet customers where they are — online, and in your neighborhood. Plus, with DoorDash’s additional alcohol delivery safety features, alcohol retailers can rest assured that their orders are getting delivered correctly.