Lockdown consumers in sober mood

Drinking-in is now the norm in lockdown Britain, with the public increasingly looking to replicate the pub and bar experience in their kitchens and front rooms. New research from CGA shows that this is leading to significantly more people making cocktails and mixed drinks at home.The cocktail boom has been one of the on-trade’s success stories of recent years, with a 10% increase in sales value in 2019 alone. Over 10 million regularly drink cocktails when out, a habit now moving to the domestic environment.
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The COVID crisis is making consumers more cautious and apprehensive, but far from driving them to drink, the majority of the country seems to be adopting a more sober lifestyle, new research from CGA has found.

Consumer insight from CGA’s BrandTrack survey revealed the extent to which habits and attitudes are changing during lockdown, and how the public is shifting its drinking habits with pubs, bars and restaurants closed.

Main concerns centre on finance, health and job security, with 85% of consumers worried about the long-term financial implications of COVID-19 and an even greater proportion (89%) worried about their health and that of their families. Over half (54%) are worried about job security.

The BrandTrack study of 5,000 GB consumers reveals that, as health has become a bigger issue, overall alcohol consumption has fallen across the nation. Habits are polarised, however, with 17% of those who usually drink alcohol increasing their consumption, while 28% are drinking less than usual. A further 9% have taken the chance to cut out alcohol completely.

For regular pub and bar-goers, typically those drinking out at least weekly, the results are even more polarising – one in five are increasing consumption, compared to 45% who have cut down or cut out alcohol.

The research also holds clues about how consumers’ attitudes towards drinks brands are changing under lockdown, with a nod to the efforts of many companies and the support they are providing to the wider community. Three-quarters of consumers suggest that they would be more willing to purchase a product from a brand that behaved ethically or morally during the COVID-19 outbreak, while 70% also agreed that they would be more likely to visit or engage with brands or chains that have offered their services during the COVID-19 crisis.

There are also significant shifts within alcohol category consumption during lockdown. While all drink categories have seen falls, some have seen less of a negative impact than others. Wine remains the most popular choice for drinkers at home, followed by lager. However, with a decrease of 27% in terms of number of drinkers from out-of-home to in-home, lager has been affected more than wine, with an equivalent fall of 11%. Whisk(e)y has been affected the least.

But there are some potential bright spots for the out-of-home food and drink market once the lockdown is lifted, with a third of adults saying they are continuing to support local hospitality businesses.

Of those saying they are backing local pubs and restaurants, 36% were using takeaway food or delivery services, 30% had purchased vouchers at local venues to use on re-opening, while 20% had donated to online fundraising initiatives, such as buying a “virtual pint”.

Further detail is included in the full report, which is available to download here. For more detail, please contact Charlie Mitchell, Research & Insights Director, Charlie.mitchell@cga.co.uk

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