How to capitalise on cocktails in South Africa’s On Premise

Cocktails are a lucrative but competitive category in South Africa’s On Premise—so how can suppliers and operators gain sales and share?

CGA by NIQ’s new research solution delivers the insights into consumers’ preferences and habits that brands need to stay ahead of the game. Scott Elliott and George Argyropoulos share some of the top takeaways from the exclusive OPUS data. 


South Africa’s top cocktail choices 

CGA’s research shows the scale of the market, with well over a third (37%) of consumers now typically drinking cocktails when out. It’s set for even more growth, with 29% of cocktail drinkers planning to buy them more often than they currently do over the next 12 months—a higher number than the 24% who intend to cut their frequency. As CGA’s research has shown, bars and late-night bars can be a particularly effective channel for growth. 


The Mojito is consumers most popular option, typically selected by 45% of spirits drinkers, followed by the Pina Colada (36%), Sex on the Beach (35%), Margarita (34%) and Daiquiri (31%). It’s clear from this that rum is a very popular ingredient, though gin and vodka are the two spirits most often consumed in the On Premise. 




The cocktail category is thriving in South Africa, and benefitting in particular from consumers’ desire to treat themselves when they go out,” says Scott Elliott. “It’s good news for spirits brands and manufacturers—especially as the reward mentality opens the door to trade-ups to more premium options. But it’s also creating a very competitive trading environment with a fierce battle for market share. With sales likely to grow again in 2024, it’s vital for all businesses in this space to understand exactly what consumers like to drink and why.” 



Securing the interest of experimental drinkers 

The popularity of cocktails like the Mojito shows how some cocktail consumers stick to what they know and like. A third (32%) say they always choose the same drinks category or brands. However, CGA’s data shows there is also a lot of interest in exploring new cocktails, and two thirds (66%) say they like trying new drinks and brands—20 percentage points more than the average consumer. 


This has increased sales of less common cocktails like the Bellini, Tom Collins and French 75. Consumption of each of these three drinks has increased by four percentage points over the last 12 months, and other cocktails like the Negroni and Sidecar have also risen in popularity. South Africa’s cocktail consumers now have an average repertoire of 5.2 varieties—just above the global average measured by CGA.  




There will always be a good market for classic cocktails, but the growth potential is particularly exciting among more experimental drinkers,” says George Argyropoulos. “There’s a strong appetite for new flavour combinations and serves, especially among younger adults, and we expect this exploration to continue in the months ahead. Suppliers will need to stay right on top of changing preferences, and our research delivers the intelligence they need to respond nimbly and effectively.” 



Learn more 

There are many more insights into consumers’ engagement with cocktails and other drinks categories in CGA by NIQ’s consumer research in South Africa. The service provides actionable learnings for successful, data-led strategies that can unlock short-term gains and sharpen long-term planning. To learn more about how CGA’s research solutions support winning On Premise activity, click here or get in touch here 

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