Covid Consumerism: Will it Keep Influencing the Alcohol Industry?


It’s hard to believe that it was a scant year ago that phrases like “the new normal,” “flatten the curve,” and “herd immunity” became a part of our everyday vocabulary, toilet paper sightings were shared on social media and treated like state secrets and matching your mask to your outfit became a fashion statement. As we are all too aware, the Covid-19 pandemic recently celebrated its’ first birthday.

As a glimmer of light begins dawning over the horizon and bars and restaurants begin opening their creaky doors to assess the wreckage left behind in the wake of the Covid-19 storm, the always on trend alcohol industry is looking to see which leftovers of the new Covid consumerism will continue during this year of recovery, and which will end up tossed aside like an empty bottle. The trouble is, there’s no real precedent to compare this to in history. While the Spanish Flu epidemic and the end of WWI gave way to the celebratory frivolity of the Roaring 20’s, the one crucial difference is that the Jazz Age didn’t also take place in the age of eCommerce. So how will these two powerhouse paradigms influence consumerism? Here are some trends that experts are predicting will be around after the smoke clears.   

eCommerce Will Still Rule

It should come as no surprise to anyone that eCommerce grew significantly in 2020, as we all adjusted to living our lives indoors and at home. North American online beverage platform Drizly reported three-and-a-half times the rate growth of earlier in 2020, and wine distributors like Croft & Barrow and Armit Wines had online sales throughout 2020 that stayed consistently at holiday season level throughout the year. Even Bacardi indicates that their current and future focus will be continuing to develop their eCommerce relationships with online grocery stores and liquor retail apps.

Even with bars and restaurants starting to open at limited capacity, consumers seem cautious to go fully back to the social outings of before, in part because they found drinking at home is cheaper and safer. What does this mean for the industry? Finding ways to continue to expand both their products and marketing to reach and connect with the eCommerce customer will need to be a crucial part of their business model. This will mean making sure they are collecting data and using predictive analytics to stay on top of consumer trends to drive future sales.

Natural Products with a Conscience

Even though the pandemic didn’t inject the same level of scare into the millennial generation as it did to baby boomers, those born in 1981-1996 took the lessons of the shutdown to heart, as the underlying messages of social consciousness meshed well with their stated values of caring for others, the planet, and their own overall sense of well-being. The industry has long been focused on capturing the zeitgeist of the millennial market, and with their preference for natural ingredients and products that uphold a commitment to social values and ethical practices have informed what and how the beverage market makes their brews and libations. Beverages were already making the pivot to organic ingredients and a marketing plan centered on brand values, and this will continue well past the end of the pandemic.

According to Forrester, 80% of millennials have stated they are willing to pay more for a product as long as they feel it’s healthy and conscious of the world around them, and 72% say millennials want to buy from brands that have a strong social media and eCommerce presence. These are both factors that the industry will need to continue to build into their marketing and product lines. 

RTDs and Cans Continue to Be Big

Here’s a statistic that leaves no room for interpretation: Ready-to-Drink (RTD) cocktail sales increased by 171% in 2020, according to Neilsen. Driving this massive uptick is consumers’ desire for convenience and for less human contact with what they put in their bodies thanks to fears born from the pandemic. Along with this is the continued influence of people wanting more innovative, highly recyclable packaging and a push toward minimalism. Consumers would prefer to have their cocktails already made for them in one neat, stylized container rather than having to purchase several bottles of ingredients in order to make their favorites at home. The emergence of all-natural, fruit-infused canned seltzers as the drink of choice for those of age in Generation Z (born in 1997-2010) has also taken the demand for canned beverages a major factor for the industry.

This is a trend that experts predict will continue long after the pandemic is through with us. Cocktails that once had the presentation be just as important as the flavor like Cosmopolitans and Martinis are now putting that creative energy into making a can that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and tastes the same as a fancy craft cocktail. Wine continues to make inroads into canned and boxed territory as well, with boxed wine being one of the biggest winners of Covid Consumerism. It’s clear that the trend toward highly convenient consumables is something that beverage companies will need to pay attention to as we move forward. Book a demo, today!