The future looks rosé: alcohol trends and tips for a post-pandemic world

When lockdown first started, the Aussie stereotype of loving a drink, no matter the occasion, was alive and well.

PLAY Senior Account Director Emma Ditterich. 

As restrictions relax, liquor consumption has slowed. With a return to ‘normal’ still a while off, there’s plenty of opportunities for brands to facilitate these occasions in the meantime. So, let’s pop a bottle and dive in!

But why is the rum gone?

To paraphrase Captain Jack Sparrow, ‘where did the booze go?’.

Many suppliers have been hit hard with the closure of pubs, bars and clubs and judging by Australia’s purchasing habits, physical stores are not quite making up for it.

Retailers seem to have fared better with shoppers turning to online orders or local delivery options from pubs, breweries and wineries.

PLAY’s data shows that shoppers are currently buying and consuming less beer, wine and spirits than normal. Call it cooler weather or a stay-at-home hangover, but it seems that alcohol isn’t quite hitting the spot as it used to.

Four ways brands can embrace the opportunity to innovate

It may take a while before everyone has the confidence to start socialising as ‘close’ to what they once were.

“A second wave seems inevitable; I’m going to watch the numbers for a while before I get too confident.” (Female interviewed by PLAY MR, 40 years).

So, what else can brands do to help celebrate different occasions in the meantime?

At home:

  1. Get creative (and not just with cocktail recipes)

A wise person once said, “I love cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food.” And why wouldn’t you? With searches for new recipes growing each week, now is the perfect time to reinvent a family favourite with a splash of the good stuff. Take a cue from Instagram influencer Jessica Nguyen’s collaboration with Dan Murphy to create a vodka-infused pasta sauce – a lesson in clever marketing and making home cooking cool with younger shoppers.

  1. Reinvent picnic packs to cater for (almost) any occasion

Picnic packs used to be the poor cousin of the charcuterie world. But with fewer opportunities to eat out for now, the opportunity is ripe for brands to create their own snack and drink packs for different occasions. What about a DIY mulled wine pack for those winter nights? Or a movie night pack? Or a ‘just because you’re stuck at home’ pack? We’ll take one of each, thanks.

In venues:

  1. Make zero the hero

As we navigate social distancing and public transport, it’s inevitable that driving to dinner or drinks will be a more favourable option. So, think as designated drivers do. Zero alcohol and low alcohol drinks have been rising in popularity, with the no-alcohol beer category projected to reach 2 percent of total beer sales by 2025. Think premium, think full flavour and definitely rethink your mocktail menu. With the likes of Seedlip on the market, there’s no excuse.

  1. Bring back the beer bucket

With capacity restrictions likely to crash happy hour for a while yet, it’s time for brands and venues to create new offers together. Although the classic Corona bucket might not be as popular anymore, there is something to be said for a bundle deal. Consider different drink ‘tasting experiences’ and get creative with your drinks menu to ensure your range is on display. After all, if your customers don’t know what’s on offer, how can they sample your finest wares?

How to keep your alcohol brand and business on the front foot.

It’s the perfect time to embrace a new direction for your business to flourish long after this pandemic is over.

If you’re looking to better understand your market, evaluate your product or test your communications strategy, the PLAY team is here to help.

 About Emma Ditterich

As PLAY’s senior account director, Emma Ditterich has a zest for consumer and shopper research and has worked with top blue-chip companies in Asia Pacific, Europe, the US and the UK. When she’s not unearthing the next ‘big thing’, overcoming purchase barriers or building category growth drivers, you can find her enjoying the spoils of the Mornington Peninsula with her family and having her powers of negotiation tested by her toddler.

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