12 drinks trends for Christmas 2021 – Part 2

As we approach the festive season, Drinks Retailing explores the key trends in wine, spirits and RTDs shaping this year’s peak sales period


5. Sips that make a stand

“Consumers are more ethically-minded than ever before,” says Ten Locks off-trade controller Julian Howard. “They want brands that strive for positive change, be it supporting sustainable producers, profiling the marginalised, or those that place provenance, heritage or family at heart.” He says stocking brands that deliver in these areas, and offer a feel-good factor, will help retailers offer the right range to drive festive sales.

Howard adds that heritage and authenticity will continue to be important. “Brands with an interesting or heart-warming backstory, traditional production methods and authentic flavours will be a hit.”

During the pandemic, shoppers have also increasingly turned to local and organic produce. “And this is a trend that has continued, with sales of BWS vying for top position in terms of highest change in value growth across the organic sector since 2018,” says Kim Wilson, managing director and founder of North South Wines, citing the Soil Association’s Organic Market Report 2021. “Our green-to-the-extreme brand Purato, from Sicily, has performed well. Purato is not only organic, but vegan-friendly, carbon neutral and packaged using recycled and recyclable materials.”  

6. Room for RTDs

Jo Taylorson, head of marketing and product management at Kingsland Drinks believes that, while there will be the usual planned parties and dinner in groups, there will also be impromptu get togethers among groups of friends who prefer a more informal setting, with “casual, trendy drinks”. 

She says: “Canned alcoholic drinks are perfect for this occasion, especially among younger generations who prefer a casual, accessible, affordable and fun drink, They’re portable, can be consumed directly from the can, and can be disposed of and recycled easily. While they only account for a small percentage of the category at the moment, brands are working to bring in new shoppers and to create a loyal fan base of canned RTD drinkers. We’re confident Christmas will be a key period for cans.”  

Andy Williams, head of convenience at Quintessential Brands UK, agrees, noting a trend for quality, differentiated RTDs as people get together in larger groups and parties resume.

7. Exploring new drinks

Offering a sense of adventure through drinks brings excitement to shoppers looking for something unusual or exotic, believes Ten Locks’ Howard. “Drinks from faraway that offer new flavour experiences appeal to those seeking escapism at a time when travel is still uncertain,” he adds. “This will endure in the run-up to the festive season as shoppers trade up, treat themselves and try new things. Spirits have been a hotbed for innovation, so they are in a prime position to give retailers extra reasons to bring customers up the price ladder over Christmas.”

Quintessential’s Williams also flags the importance of innovation within the spirits category “given its ability to catch shoppers’ eyes”. He mentions a new look for The Dubliner Irish whiskey and The Dubliner Whiskey & Honeycomb Liqueur, which was rolled out earlier this year.

8. Convenient gifting

As we prepare for the festive season, it’s worth considering pack formats. With consumers getting increasingly into the habit of shopping online, online retailers are expanding their gifting ranges to draw more shoppers to them, with alcoholic options on the rise, says Quintessential’s Williams. “For example, Moonpig has listed a Bloom gifting box,” he adds – and the box fits through the letterbox. 

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