[It’s 11 o’clock somewhere]: Shifting daypart cocktail consumption in the US On Premise

Exclusive new data from CGA by NIQ reveals important shifts in when, where and why consumers purchase cocktails in the US On Premise.
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The Cocktail Sales Tracker, powered by CGA’s BeverageTrak service, provides expert insights into the dayparts and occasions for cocktail consumption, with actionable takeaways to help suppliers respond nimbly to people’s latest preferences and priorities.


The Tracker highlights significant movements in sales towards Sundays and earlier dayparts. Value velocity on Sundays in the last quarter of 2023 was 19% higher than in the same period in 2022, with some of the growth coming at the expense of Saturdays, where velocity fell 5%. Sales held steady on other days—and total velocity rose by 5% year-on-year.


There is a similar ongoing transition from late-night to day-time cocktail consumption. Velocity in the 11am-to-3pm and 3pm-to-6pm dayparts have risen year-on-year by 5% and 7% respectively but fallen by 2% and 4% in the 6pm-to-10pm and 10pm-to-6am periods.


Furthermore, detailed daypart analysis sheds light on the nuances of consumer behaviour throughout the day. Both average prices and check values are greatest in the early evening, followed by mid-afternoon. Interestingly, the early evening emerges as the most lucrative time of day for most top cocktails, except for Mimosa and Bellini, which peak earlier in the day. Palomas, Bloody Marys, and Mai Tais, on the other hand, earn the average outlet more at other times of the day than during the early evening. These insights underscore the importance of understanding the specific preferences of consumers during different dayparts to optimise sales and profitability.


Moreover, the data reveals variations in cocktail performance by daypart compared to the previous year. For instance, the Moscow Mule ranks higher in Q4 2023 than in Q4 2022 at mid-day and mid-afternoon, indicating increasing popularity during these times. However, its ranking is lower in the early evening, suggesting a potential shift in consumer preferences during this period.


Many consumers—especially younger ones—seek quality brands and innovation on their cocktail occasions. While over half (56%) are willing to pay more for a cocktail with branded ingredients, and more than two in five (43%) of those aged 21 to 34 pick signature serves that are unique to a venue on every or almost every visit.


Crucially for operators and suppliers, they are willing to be influenced in their decision-making. Three quarters (73%) of cocktail drinkers ask bar staff for recommendations at least occasionally, and nine in ten (89%) look at menus before making their selections. CGA’s new Bartender Report emphasises the close connection between staff recommendation and sales.


The Cocktail Sales Tracker also delivers extensive breakdowns of sales by location. It indicates that Nevada retains the highest cocktail velocity, ahead of the District of Columbia, California and Kansas—while New York, California and Texas are among the locations with the highest interest in pre-batch or draft cocktails.


Matthew Crompton, CGA by NIQ’s regional director – North America, said: “Our analysis shows how the cocktail category is both performing strongly and constantly evolving. This makes it crucial to appreciate the latest nuances in the timing, occasions and locations of cocktail purchases, and respond with the optimum ranging, flavours, ingredients and price points. Our Cocktail Sales Tracker provides all the information suppliers need to closely monitor consumers’ changes and thrive in this dynamic and valuable category.”


Click here to learn more about CGA’s Cocktail Sales Tracker. CGA by NIQ’s data service provides best-in-class insights into sales trends in cocktails and all other drinks categories in the US On Premise. To discover more about the solutions and the expert support that is available to help interpret trends at category, segment and brand level, contact Matthew Crompton here.

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