Healthy alcohol. It’s a strange concept because clearly booze is bad for you physically (mentally I can argue for it), but the idea that alcohol can keep up with your healthy lifestyle is a continuing marketing trend.
Even scientists want to link the two. Did you know that people who consume alcohol moderately appear less likely to develop cataracts that require surgery? That’s according to new research published in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and presumably your favorite reading material outside of CBB. Of course, the study also showed that people who drank daily or nearly daily had about a 6 percent higher risk of cataract surgery compared with people who consumed alcohol moderately, so I guess it’s all about finding the sweet spot, which I’ve yet to find.
Wine has always flaunted its vaguely-healthy-for-you halo, but beer has recently realized its potential to push its products toward healthy-minded consumers and drinkers. No and low alcohol beer (paired with low-calorie and low-carb marketing) has had some impressive growth during the pandemic. The United States, the second largest no/low ABV beer market behind Germany, registered a 30+ percent increase in sales volume in 2020. Attracting more drinkers, there are new NA beer brands released every month (dig this article), and even craft giants like Sam Adams and Dogfish Head (now the same company) are selling no/low beer in 2021.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery‘s Lemon Quest brand, which is under 0.5 percent ABV, is also pushing better-for-you ingredients. Dogfish Head President Sam Calagione even sought out the help of Bob Murray, former head of the Gatorade Research Institute and current owner of Sports Science Insight, to help formulate the recipe and give it cred. According to this Beverage Dynamics article:
“What we used was very intentional: acai berry, sea salt, blueberry, plus a polyphenol-rich hop,” Calagione explains. “It gives off a green tea and hop character, while also having active-lifestyle attributes.”
Harpoon Brewery is going in another direction. It just introduced the Harpoon Big League IPA, which is being marketed with better-for-you ingredients — made with Chia seeds, Buckwheat Kasha and Mediterranean sea salt — but matched with a serious ABV of 7.2 percent. Harpoon noted how new data it’s collected reveals how healthier-minded Americans are eating and drinking (a survey of 949 adults aged 21+). Top findings found:
More than two-thirds (68 percent) of Americans are more focused on healthy eating and drinking habits now compared to a year ago
71 percent of respondents say they consider eating and drinking items they enjoy – regardless of their nutritional value, in moderation — a form of wellness
When describing their approach to wellness during the pandemic, 44 percent of Millennials say they make better food and drink choices than they did before the pandemic, compared to 34 percent of Gen Xers
52 percent of Millennials say that better-for-you ingredients impact their decision more now when selecting a craft beer compared to a year ago, while only a quarter (26 percent) of Gen Xers feels the same
Never argue with the numbers. Better-for-you ingredients allows Big League IPA to boast a “high-ABV without the guilt,” according to the release, which is also a sweet spot I’ve never been able to find.
Tap pours steady, volume climbing
Changing directions toward guilty pleasures, I do miss hitting the bars for some brewskis. Even during this fourth wave of COVID-19 cases, people are getting out as more on-premise taps are flowing. Open rate locations (venues open and pouring beer) held firm at 92 percent for the third straight period, according to BeerBoard.
BeerBoard is the draft king of data. The company sources and manages data from more than $1 billion in retail draft beer sales (via varying partners from B-Dubs to AB InBev). Its digital platform captures, analyzes and reports real-time info related to bar performance, brand insights and inventory. Here’s some other data nugs from its On-Premise Status Report (March 25-28).
Nationally, Average Number of Taps held firm at 18 handles per location. Four of the states tracked added one tap each — Illinois (15), Michigan (22), Nevada (21) and Tennessee (19). Minnesota (20) and South Carolina (16) dropped one handle each, while Florida (18), Georgia (17), New York (18) and Texas (18) all held firm.
For the fourth consecutive period, Percentage of Taps Pouring increased, this time up three points (+3.0%) to check in at 68% pouring nationally. Growth among the states tracked was nominal, seeing Nevada lead the way with a +2.7% climb. Illinois (+1.8%), New York (+1.6%), Florida (+1.4%) and Texas (+1.4%) were also up.
Volume climbed +5.7% nationally for the period, the third consecutive period to see growth. Nevada paced the states tracked with a healthy +15.7% on the weekend, while Georgia was +9.9%. Florida (+6.6%), Minnesota (+5.1%) and Texas (+4.4%) also saw noticeable gains.
Online sales accelerate, especially RTDs
Let’s go from on-premise to online. Drizly is the leading online alcohol deliver marketplace in the United States, and Uber just bought Drizly for $1.1 billion, so it’s only going to get bigger. Drizly recently hosted a webinar for retailers, suppliers and media to look at how the business has changed since the pandemic. In the presentation, which you can sign up for here, Drizly cited three main growth drivers: new customers (up 200 percent year over year), new retailers joining the Drizly network (up 170 percent) and new states and cities legalizing alcohol delivery. Consumer behaviors also shifted within three main segments:
Alcohol categories: Drizly saw a bump in the spirits category, and it became a top-selling category on the platform at about 41%. To get more specific, tequila and vodka were top tellers, liqueurs and other cocktail fixings spiked as people made more cocktails at home and RTDs grew over 2,000%.
Gifting: as we were separated this year more than ever, gifting grew quickly on the platform, jumping from 2-3% of sales in the past to 10% of orders today — and even getting up to 20% during the holidays.
Conscious Consumption: Drizly saw 240% share growth in black-owned brands sales year over year. They also saw that the amount of available black-owned brands grew 48% year over year.
One of the hottest growth categories for 2020 was definitely ready-to-drink beverage alcohol (basically single-serve cocktails or mixed drinks). Like seltzers, RTDs seem to trend during the warmer months, so the season is upon us. In Drizly’s Top-Selling Brands and Categories for Spring, the company noted the RTD cocktail trend has been growing for years, and RTDs gained share from Q1 to Q2 in both 2019 (from 1 to 2.5 percent) and 2020 (from 1 to 3 percent). Here’s a list of its most popular RTD brands.
Instacart, the online grocery platform in North America, just released Beyond the Cart: A Year of Essential Insights, a new report highlighting how the pandemic has transformed 100 years of grocery habits. The report combines an in-depth look at data from Instacart along with insights from a new Instacart survey of 2,038 U.S. adults conducted recently online by The Harris Poll. What was popular? RTDs…
Locked-Down Lushes: these consumers imbibed while stuck indoors. The years fastest growing alcoholic beverage category proved to pre-mixed cocktails [RTDs] — year-over-year sales grew by 127%. Sales for specialty beers and spiked seltzers grew by 96% and 131% respectively year-over-year, while the hard liquor of choice proved to be gin, which grew by 21% year-over-year.
That’s it for this week, but I will continue to be fed a steady diet of data: online beer sales reports, on-premise tap pour charts, consumer trend analyses, product packaging surveys and you get the idea. These were just a few of the interesting abstracts and conclusions from various sources I received of late. If you have similarly interesting info, send it over to [email protected], and I’ll see about including your company in an upcoming episode of The Beer Flow.