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Drinking Trends in 2021: RTD, eCommerce, and Delivery


How 2020 Changed the Alcohol Market

2020 was the year of hardships -- mentally, physically and financially. As the year fell apart for many businesses, the alcoholic-beverage industry seemed to be doing the exact opposite. Sales skyrocketed. With the alcohol industry expanding its capabilities each year, individuals are making smarter choices when it comes to their 5 o’clock cocktails. From ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages, old-school classics, and the rise of delivery service, is the way we’re drinking changing?

Who Doesn't Love an RTD Cocktail?

Ready-to-drink beverages: Easy, convenient, and cheap. If consumers love beer and wine in a can, why not cocktails? If there’s one thing consumers love, it’s convenience, but does that mean that the quality is in the can? RTD hard seltzers were not a hit at first with consumers' feedback, some saying that it was too sweet, others commenting on the many artificial ingredients or low quality. With some experimenting and quality control, ready-to-drink hard seltzer or canned cocktail beverages have never been better, booming in sales, making a huge splash in the spirits market. In 2020 alone, the RTD cocktail category significantly increased 39.1% to $489 million, passing all other spirit categories.

Original Spirits Increase in Sales

While RTD cocktails are growing, so are a few of their original spirits. Tequila and Rum are both gaining more popularity since the pandemic hit. According to Beverage Daily, tequila sales alone increased by 22% more in 2020, making at-home margaritas a quarantine favorite. In 2014, the flavored and spiced rum category output was just under six million bottles; Fast-forward to five years later in 2019, we’re seeing an increase of almost 80% with more than ten million bottles sold.


Alcohol Delivered to Your Door

A popular trend that has helped Americans stay connected to the outside world of retail is the convenience of having a door delivery service. Amazon, PostMates, GrubHub, and now companies, such as Drizly have been extremely popular throughout the pandemic. Since the beginning of the lockdown in March, alcohol sales have skyrocketed and Drizly in particular has increased its sales by 350%, according to CSP Daily. Delivery companies such as Drizly keep consumers safe by avoiding driving under the influence and staying inside during a pandemic. Between luxury and convenience, these types of services are ones that will most likely stick around in response to high demand.

There is nothing that will ever replace getting out of the house for a few hours to enjoy one too many cocktails with friends. Even stuck inside, with the sales of alcohol rising, consumers’ spending has continued to decrease significantly, while being more conscious of what we’re spending our money on. Some have taken up “home bartending” and experimenting with drinks, while others have their RTD beverages in hand, ready for a big night in. Whatever it may be, 2021 is going to be a year of more innovation for convenience and new ways to keep us safe and healthy.

Author :  Jennifer Dutton, Blog Writer, DrinkLyte Co. "Helping Grow CPG Brands Beyond Their Potential"