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Mixing it up in cocktails: How to reach the new wave of adventurous drinkers

Consumers are increasing their experimentation in cocktails, CGA by NIQ’s H1 Mixed Drinks Report reveals—opening up opportunities for suppliers to boost new and lesser-known brands and flavours.

The cost-of-living crisis led many cocktail consumers to seek tried-and-trusted serves that they knew would provide value for money. But while nearly half (47%) of drinkers say they still prefer classic cocktails, this is down by 5 percentage points from a year ago. By contrast, the number preferring signature cocktails has climbed by 3percentage points to 21%, and those choosing modern cocktails have nudged up 1percentage point to 16%. 


Interest in new cocktails is increasing consumers’ repertoires. They now have an average of 7.1 flavours and 4.6 cocktails in their repertoires—1.0 and 0.6 more than a year ago respectively.  


These consumers are increasingly confident about buying serves with unfamiliar flavours, which brings new avenues for suppliers to target. Consumption of smoky flavours has risen by 4 percentage points year-on-year, while interest in sour, creamy, coffee flavours and hot cocktails have all climbed by 3 percentage points.  


Consumers are also broadening their flavour horizons. Numbers choosing coconut-based flavours have jumped 8percentage points year-on-year, and those picking lemon and vanilla have increased by 6 percentage points. Apple, pineapple, lime and cherry are among other lesser known flavours on the rise. 


It’s important to consider the time-of-day consumers are choosing to visit as this is also a factor in drinks choice. Whilst consumers are still prioritising consumption during evenings and weekends, it’s evident that consumers are also open to drinking cocktails midweek and earlier in the day, and this highlights the need to understand the best-fit serves for different dayparts. 


CGA’s Mixed Drinks Report also reveals the scale of Britain’s cocktail market, with sales of £707m in the 12 months to March. However, with sales down by 1.3% year-on-year, competition for consumers’ attention is now very fierce. To help, the report delivers expert analysis of market trends and drinkers’ preferences that support suppliers’ efforts to adapt strategies to suit the latest habits and priorities. 

Phillip Montgomery, CGA’s director of client services UK & Ireland, said: “It’sencouraging to see consumers becoming freer and more experimental with their mixed drinks. It brings some great opportunities for suppliers to leveragesome of the newer and alternative brands and flavours in their ranges, especially at the premium end. But to capture this adventurous spend, it’s vital to track changing preferences, innovate with serve and collaborate with operators on menus that showcase both traditional and modern cocktails. Our Mixed Drinks Report delivers the market intelligence that’s needed to stay ahead of the game in this very competitive space.” 


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