Mixed drinks shaken and stirred after lockdown

Cocktail sales are soaring as consumers celebrate the return of pubs, bars and restaurants—but habits and priorities have been changed by COVID-19.

Those are among the big messages in CGA’s new ‘Mixed Drinks Report’, which reveals high demand for On Premise cocktails that have been hard to recreate at home during lockdown. CGA’s data shows that sales in the ten weeks since the On Premise reopened, like-for-like sales have rocketed by 61% from the same period in 2019.


Separate research for the report shows that more than a third (35%) of consumers bought cocktails during the five-week period of outdoor-only service, while a fifth plan to drink more cocktails per visit after reopening—three times the number who think they will drink fewer.


The research reveals a treat mentality among many cocktail drinkers, with a third (35%) splashing out on their first drink back in outlets—presenting suppliers and operators with chances to upsell to premium options. However, with spending increasingly polarised, other consumers will be seeking value, which puts pressure on businesses to establish the right pricing ladders.


The ‘Mixed Drinks Report’ shows how consumption has tilted towards food-led occasions. A third (33%) of cocktail consumers are now likely to drink them on food-led visits—up by 11 percentage points since the start of the pandemic.


COVID has also sharpened people’s focus on the safety aspects of drinking out. Hygienic preparation is the factor that has increased most in importance for cocktail drinkers from pre-pandemic levels, ahead of both the freshness of ingredients and the knowledge of bar staff.


Our ‘Mixed Drinks Report’ shows that COVID-19 has changed the market in subtle but significant ways,” says Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland. “Drinkers have badly missed the cocktail experiences that only the On Premise can provide, and celebrations over the summer and festive seasons could power even more growth in this flourishing category. But to achieve it, operators are going to need to hit the sweet spots on pricing, ranging, serve styles and more—and suppliers have a crucial role to play in finding them.”


As well as an overview of the market, CGA’s ‘Mixed Drinks Report’ has in-depth analysis of consumer profiles, paths to purchase, channels, occasions and trends. It combines a survey of 1,000 nationally representative consumers in Britain with CGA’s suite of volumetric data to provide a comprehensive picture of the cocktail market in 2021.


For an exclusive preview of the report, click here.


For more information about the Mixed Drinks Report and how it can support suppliers’ planning and engagement with the On Premise, please contact Jonathan Jones at jonathan.jones@cgastrategy.com.

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