Keep pace with the young ones

Operators who cater for diverse repertoires stand to benefit, drinks firms say

Bowled over: the firm behind VK is supporting the trend for RTD cocktails with branded fishbowls.

YOUNG adults are broadening their drinks horizons – and operators must keep pace with the changes if they are to continue to appeal to this lucrative sector of the market.

That was the message from drinks firms contacted by SLTN last week, who said younger consumers are less likely to remain loyal to one particular category, choosing different drinks and styles to suit different occasions.
It’s a trend that the companies behind some of the biggest ready-to-drink brands seem to have embraced, with both WKD owner SHS Drinks and Global Brands, whose RTDs include VK, Reef and Hooch, promoting their products as a base for long drinks and cocktails, as well as in their original ready-to-drink format.
“The emergence and popularity of the RTD cocktail is probably one of the biggest trends we are seeing amongst young adults,” said Debs Carter, marketing director of WKD.
“There has been quite a significant change in the way in which RTDs are consumed. RTDs are still seen and drunk as drinks in their own right, but they are now increasingly being used as a cocktail ingredient.
“It’s a trend which provides an excellent growth opportunity from a licensee’s perspective on a number of fronts. RTD cocktails offer good incremental margins, there’s the in-outlet theatre which consumers can’t get at home, and it enables bars to create their own signature cocktails, which create a point of difference.”
Simon Green, marketing director at Global Brands, also highlighted the trend for RTD-based cocktails, saying the brands which are enjoying sales growth are those that have adapted.
“For traditional RTDs such as VK, the traditional 18 to 24 year old audience which is looking for great-tasting, convenient drinks that suit high energy occasions is broadly the same, but we also recognised the trend for cocktails and have adapted our support accordingly,” he said.
“The VK flavours are increasingly being used in the on-trade as a base for eye-catching, refreshing share serves that create theatre in-venue and drive volume and GP for customers.”
It’s not just with RTDs that young adult consumers are becoming more experimental.
Nicole Goodwin, UK group marketing manager for Jagermeister, said the company is promoting different ways of serving the herbal liqueur.
“The Jagerbomb continues to play a huge part in the brand’s success, but it is Jagermeister’s perfect serve – as an ice cold shot – which represents the biggest growth opportunity, tapping in to the growing trend of consumers looking to try new and interesting drinks,” she said.
“Consumers are becoming more experimental and are looking to authentic brands such as Jagermeister to provide them with the high quality complex taste they desire.”
Luke Wade, director at Proof Drinks, whose portfolio includes liqueur brands Agwa de Bolivia and Mickey Finn, agreed that young adults are increasingly turning to brands with heritage and provenance.
“Young adult consumers have never been so well-informed and well-travelled, which has only served to increase the need for venues to really evaluate their product category range,” he said. “Young adults are also more likely to be repertoire drinkers now, enjoying an array of different products on a night out.”

Image – Bowled over: the firm behind VK is supporting the trend for RTD cocktails with branded fishbowls.