Here are eight trading insights to help suppliers and operators understand trends and revive sales in 2024.
1 Sales down 4.6%
CGA’s On Premise Measurement service shows spirits sales totalled £7,646m in 2023—down by 4.6% on 2022, which had been a particularly good year for the category. This is well below the 1.3% growth for total On Premise drinks sales last year.
2 Share lost to beer and soft drinks
Some spirits sales have leaked away to other categories in the last 12 months—partly as a result of consumers seeking to save money or moderate their alcohol intake. Spirits had a 24.4% share of total sales in 2023, down by 1.5 percentage points. Meanwhile, beer’s share rose 1.3 percentage points to 42.9% and soft drinks’ slice by 0.2 percentage points to 14.7%.
3 Rising costs put spending under pressure…
As the cost of living crisis continues, CGA’s Consumer Pulse research shows a quarter (26%) of consumers are now choosing spirits neat or with mixers less often than before—nearly three times as many as the number (9%) who are buying them more. Pressure on spending also means 24% are choosing cocktails less frequently.
4 … But premium categories out-perform
While some consumers are watching their spending, others continue to seek more expensive spirits. Premium brands increased their share of spirits sales by value by 1.7 percentage points to 27.4% in 2023, while the super-premium segment rose 0.3 percentage points to 8.3%. While standard spirits still take the majority (64.3%) of sales, their share dipped by 2 percentage points. This is a reminder that many loyal spirits consumers remain eager to trade up.
5 Cream liqueurs in growth
Cream liqueurs was the only sub-category to achieve growth in 2023, with sales by value up 29.8%—largely because of the popularity of short serves like Baby Guinness. Cream liqueurs now account for 2.5% of all spirits sales.
6 Vodka still the largest category
With well over a quarter (28.9%) of all spirits sales last year, vodka remains the largest sub-category. But while its share rose by 0.3 percentage points, total sales were still down by 3.5%. Flavoured vodka sales grew 11.2%—a significantly better performance than the 5.0% drop in the non-flavoured segment.
7 More losses for gin
Gin has had a tough run of sales in the last few years, and it lost another 0.9 percentage points of spirits share in 2023. In the reverse trend to vodka, non-flavoured gin stole 0.4 percentage points of share from flavoured varieties.
8 Extra share for Scotch, brandy and rum
Categories taking some of gin’s share of spirits sales in 2023 included imported whisky and Scotch (both up 0.3 percentage points) and brandy (up 0.1 percentage points). Golden / dark and white rum rose 0.5 and 0.1 percentage points respectively.
9 High tempo occasions are diversifying
CGA’s Evolving High Tempo Occasion Report explores how consumers are shifting their late-night visits to earlier dayparts, such as ticketed events, bottomless brunches and pub and bar crawls. These occasions present new opportunities for spirits brands – but an understanding where and how to cater to these consumers during these shifting occasions will be crucial in driving spirits sales.
CGA’s sales measurement and consumer research provide unrivalled intelligence on the spirits category in the On Premise, with deep insights into trends by segment, channel and much more. CGA’s Mixed Drinks Report delivers more expert analysis into spirit consumption and drinkers’ preferences. To learn more about how CGA’s suite of research sources can help suppliers and operators respond to opportunities and craft successful sales and promotional strategies, contact senior client manager Matthew Meek at email@example.com.