Premium spirits and bars lead industry growth

hendricks tea cup serveBars and premium brands are two key areas of growth in the on-trade as consumers seek out quality and nostalgia when going out, according to the latest Market Report from First Drinks.

The report highlights how value sales of premium spirit and liqueur brands are up 18 per cent overall in the UK, outperforming the total alcohol market which is up only two per cent.

It suggests that a prolonged recession has led to people placing more importance on experiences including higher-quality brands although they are still seeking them at affordable prices.

Key trends include nostalgia for past drinking culture, with particular emphasis on recreating drinks from the early 1900s and Prohibition era, reflected in the continuing popularity of speakeasy-style bars.

The Market Report also notes how the good-quality “perfect serve” has become more important. “The growth of cocktails has created a thirst for unique serves and creative experimentation in drinks,” said Roy Summers, head of category management at First Drinks.

“There has been a growth in serve rituals through the use of classic tea cups, cocktail kettles, balloon G&T glasses, jam jar pots, paint tins and smoke.”

He added that the “perfect serve” can be a real profit driver for the on-trade with more than two-thirds of consumers willing to pay more for a unique serve.

The report also highlighted the growth of “café-bars” – all-day bars that evolve from coffee and lunchtime trade to late-night cocktail and DJ bars. As the number of community pubs in the UK continues to decline, “café-bars” account for 53 per cent of new openings in the UK.

Café-bars are estimated to number more than 6,000 across the UK, specialising in premium spirits, liqueurs and cocktails. This has contributed to a two per cent increase in the number of “premium” drinking outlets.

One in five outlets – more than 19,500 bars, pubs and clubs – now offer cocktails. According to data in the Market Report, the top five cocktails varies according to type of outlet.

Top 5 cocktails with consumers
1. Sex on the Beach
2. Cosmopolitan
3. Blue Lagoon
4. Margarita
5. Pina Colada

Top 5 cocktails in high-end on-trade
1. Mojito
2. Bespoke bartender-created cocktails
3. Martini
4. Champagne cocktails
5. Caipirinha

Top 5 cocktails in mainstream on-trade
1. Mojito
2. Cosmopolitan
3. Sex on the Beach
4. Piña Colada and Blue Lagoon
5. Champagne cocktails

First Drinks also identifies a small but significant trend for “prestige” bars and spirit brands such as aged whiskies and cognacs because of an influx of foreign wealth, particularly in London.

The report was put together by First Drinks with on-trade data from CGA Strategy.

Chris Mason, managing director for First Drinks Brands, said: “As the recession continues to play out, it is important to have an in-depth understanding of consumers and shoppers, their changing habits and how they are adapting. As such, premium suppliers like ourselves need to work hand in hand with on- and off-trade retailers to ensure we are delivering tailor-made, creative solutions to satisfy consumers.”

First Drinks, which is wholly owned by William Grant & Sons, has a portfolio including Grant’s, The Balvenie, Glenfiddich, Hendrick’s, Sailor Jerry, Tullamore Dew, Rémy Martin, Cointreau, Mount

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