Researchers at the US-based market research group based their predictions on US sales surveys of spirits, wine and beer, plus interviews with brand marketers, on-premise and retail operators, bartenders and consumers.
The top trend, Wines go sweet, reflected a growing preference for Moscato-type wine and pink sparklers on menus across the US. “Red blends also proliferate, delivering a range of flavour profiles, many of which skew toward the sweet and medium-bodied end of the spectrum to appeal particularly to millennials [the millenial generation].”
The second top trend Beer comes to the table in high-end restaurants was revealed in the extensive beer lists, that are being crafted with the same care as wine lists. The trend is predicted to “take hold at upscale-casual and fine-dining restaurants, where beer’s food-friendly nature further enhances the dining experience”.
The third trend Next-level ciders indicated cider’s growing popularity due to its broad appeal and food-friendly flavour profiles.
The researchers also attributed its popularity to increased distribution and marketing support as major supplier companies sought to exploit the category. New flavoured varieties are predicted to further bolster the category in both retail and restaurant/bar outlets next year.
Just outside the top three, Unexpected flavors in unexpected places predicted the use of confectionary flavours. “The duality of sweet-and-savoury and other flavour combinations take flavoured vodkas into new realms, as do unique and unexpected offerings that inspire at-home and professional bartenders alike,” said the researchers.
Also, Canadian whisky with flavoured expressions was calculated to appeal to younger tipplers, while rum and tequila continue to deliver new flavour experiences.
Next-level retailing was identified as a hot trend for next year that would take adult beverage retailing from ‘package store’ to ‘bottle shop’ concepts that focus on eclectic spirits, wine and beer offerings, hand selling of products and attention to the overall customer experience.
Legislative changes were likely to boost in-store sipping and sampling in convenience and grocery outlets.
Mixers that matter will become evident next year as the trend towards improved quality prompts bar professionals to apply the same stringent standards to mixers as to alcohol components. More attention will focus on showcasing mixers, juice, flavourings, purees, bitters and other drink ingredients.
The trend towards New drinks on tap will be realised in innovative dispensing systems at bars and restaurants that bring spirits and cocktails to the tap, sometimes even at customers’ tables. “Keg wines also deliver unique vintages in a fresh format,” according to the research.
Digital drinks are predicted to become widespread as wine, cocktail and beer lists presented on digital tablets put descriptive information, photos and even food-pairing suggestions at guests’ fingertips in bars and restaurants.
In-store tablets and digital kiosks will provide product details, ratings and serving suggestions at retail. “Smartphone apps, along with QR codes on everything from packaging to menus, also immediately connect consumers to interesting drink information,” said the researchers.
Beer gardens indoors and out will become a hot trend as beer, food and socialising come to life in large open spaces, they said. Evidence for this trend could be seen in the growth of beer gardens − serving both beer and food − from New York to New Orleans and beyond.
Finally, Whisky wows reflected the growing popularity of whisky-flavored liquors, flavored whiskies, single barrel bourbons and new takes on rye. “In bars and restaurants, the storied brown spirit attracts more young adults and women, while consumers experiment with both traditional and new expressions for at-home enjoyment,” said the researchers.
Top 10 US adult drink trends
- Wines go sweet
- Beer comes to the table in high-end restaurants.
- Next-level ciders.
- Unexpected flavours in unexpected places.
- Next-level retailing.
- Mixers matter.
- New drinks on tap.
- Digital drinks.
- Beer gardens indoors and out.
- Whisky wows.