Research firm Mintel recently launched its 2023 Alcoholic Drinks Review for the UK market, and while the notion of falling volumes and rising prices is a well-known consequence of the cost-of-living crisis, the report also looks at what might happen next.

As part of a five-year outlook, Mintel expects volume sales to improve marginally in 2024, and gain momentum in 2025. However, from 2026, the research firm predicts that both an ageing population and the moderation trend will erode sales.

According to Mintel, a number of alcoholic drinks types have a “marked youth bias” in their consumption, peaking among 18-34 year olds. These drinks include cider, dark and white spirits, Champagne, liqueurs, RTDs and cocktails. “This reflects these drinks’ links to socialising and the typically sweet flavour profile or serves of some these appealing more to younger groups,” Mintel says. According to the report, these drinks will therefore lose out from the projected 1.9% decline in the population of 20-34 year olds over the decade between 2020-30.

It’s not all bad news, though, as still wine and beers including ales, bitters and stouts have an older bias, peaking among the over-55s.

“The drinks stand to benefit from the ageing UK population,” the report says.

Elsewhere, the report cites sustainability as a key trend for drinks brands, especially when it comes to packaging. The use of recycled materials, packaging reduction, and switching to lighter weight packaging all get a mention.

In terms of consumer trends, the report finds that wanting to relax or wanting a treat are key reasons for drinking alcohol. Meanwhile, ‘familiar flavour’ is a leading factor when it comes to purchasing drinks, while brand loyalty is low, the report finds.

Overall, as the cost-of-living crisis continues, value for money remains paramount.

“Marketing themed around at-home occasions, further NPD in smaller formats, plus highlighting the number of servings in larger formats, should help brands to support category sales during the current cost of living crisis,” says senior research analyst Alice Baker. “Emotion-led marketing mining alcoholic drinks’ strong relaxing, mood boosting and treat associations should also help to drive purchase.”

To access the full report, click here.