Market To Market: Boom In Booze
If you found yourself pouring a nice glass of pinot or mixing up a margarita during the pandemic, you were in good company. Americans are consuming more alcohol now than before Prohibition was enacted in 1920.
The Los Angeles Times reports that just before Prohibition, each American adult drank an average of just under two gallons of alcohol annually. Today, federal calculations estimate that each person consumes 2.3 gallons a year on average. This equates to about 500 drinks per person, per year—or around nine drinks per week.
Alcohol sales skyrocketed in 2020, with online alcohol sales alone up triple digits from 2019, according to Nielsen. Alcohol consumption spiked especially among women, who consumed 41-percent more alcohol compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to a RAND Corporation study.
Consumers aren’t just drinking more—they’re also splashing out on higher-end beverages. According to the Distilled Spirits Council, spirits costing more than $40 per 750 milliliters (the most common liquor bottle size) accounted for 40 percent of the U.S. spirit industry’s growth last year. U.S. distillers’ revenue surged 7.7 percent in 2020 to $31.2 billion—the fastest growth and highest sales in four decades.
As the pandemic gradually retreats in the U.S., alcohol sales are slowing slightly, but numbers are still higher than in 2019. According to Nielsen, retail sales of wine, beer and spirits are approximately 20 to 30 percent higher now compared to the same time period in 2019.
One reason for the continued spike could be an increase in options. Consumers can take virtual cocktail-mixing lessons to stir up their own drinks at home, grab a seat at the bar or get their drinks delivered curbside. Most states that allowed to-go cocktails during the pandemic are making this pivot permanent. As of June, at least 20 states are allowing bars and restaurants to continue selling cocktails to-go.
However consumers purchase their alcohol, they are contributing to a market that has historically fared well through turbulent times. If projections hold true, the post-COVID era will be no different. Globally, the wine and spirits market is projected to reach nearly $151 billion this year and grow to almost $209 billion by 2025, according to Research and Markets.
Whether you want to work with wineries or tap into the bar and tavern market, you can use promotional products to make a splash in all kinds of ways. From giveaways at tastings and festivals to gift-with-purchase items, promotional products allow beverage brands to refresh their marketing, tell their brand story and keep their fans engaged. Read on to learn about the wine and spirits market and how you can get in front of their audiences.
The pandemic spurred a major home mixology movement. From quarantinis (basically any beverage sipped at home) to walktails (cocktails enjoyed while walking), consumers have learned to get creative. According to a Drizly, an online alcohol delivery platform, sales for cocktail ingredients such as bitters, syrups and mixers surged 600 percent in 2020. Most alcohol consumers (54 percent) say they will continue to mix at-home cocktails through 2021.
Retailers can connect with this crowd by serving up cocktail-related promotional products. Items such as colorful wine glasses, bottle openers and cocktail kits can make brands a part of the at-home party. Wineries, bars and distilleries can also expand their branded merchandise to include bar tools, cocktail books and other items that allow fans to recreate the drinking experience back home.
Global Drink Wine Day falls on February 18 every year, but you can market to wine enthusiasts any day with creative and useful promotional products. Approximately 75 percent of adults drink wine, and nearly half (44 percent) consume at least a couple of glasses per week. Here’s why they’re pouring a glass (or a few):
- 63 percent say because they enjoy the taste
- 47 percent say because wine relieves stress
- 41 percent say because wine pairs well with food
- 33 percent say because wine makes them happy
Here’s a generational breakdown of wine-share sales
in the U.S. last year:
- Baby Boomer – 36.4%
- Gen X – 34.8%
- Millennial – 20.3%
- Silent Generation – 5.4%
- Gen Z – 2.9%
This year’s NFL preseason gets under way on August 5 with a game between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers, and college football officially kicks off on August 28 in stadiums across the country. Alcohol brands can win over fans by bringing the fun to tailgate parties. Consider these stats on today’s tailgaters:
- 60 percent of tailgaters are between the ages of 25 and 44
- More men (79 percent) than women (18 percent) tailgate
- 59 percent of tailgaters have a college degree and 14 percent have a graduate degree
- 46 percent of tailgaters say they tailgate six-10 times a season
- 42 percent of tailgaters spend over $500 a season on food and supplies
- 95 percent of tailgaters prepare their food at the stadium
- The U.S. bar and nightclub market is projected to grow 16 percent in 2021, reaching $25.8 billion
- Nearly 364,000 people work in bars, pubs, taverns and nightclubs in 2021, up from almost 332,000 in 2020
- In 2020, there were 57,000 businesses in the bar and nightclub sector
- Bar owners spend an average of $420,000 to open a bar and about $710,400 to run a bar in its first year
- Bar owners pay about $24,400 per month in recurring costs, which include alcohol, staff wages and licensing fees
- Bars see an average profit margin of 70-80 percent, far surpassing general retail businesses, which typically see a 25-percent profit margin
- Bars generate an average of $27,500 per month in revenue
Sources: Statista and BinWise
Here are the five most popular cocktails in the United States:
- Old Fashioned
- Moscow Mule
The United States produces over 800 million gallons of wine annually, with most coming from these 10 states:
- New York
Hard seltzers could soon reach the same market size as beer imports. Research from RBC Capital Markets shows that hard seltzers could grow 150 percent by 2025. The hard-seltzer category raked in $4.3 billion in retail sales in 2020, about 2.5 times more than 2019 sales.
Dry January, a campaign that originated in the United Kingdom to promote abstaining from alcohol for the month, has become a major movement. The campaign started in 2013 with just 4,000 participants. In 2020, more than four million people around the world took part. In the U.S., nearly 25 percent of adults who drink participated in Dry January this year, up from 16 percent in January 2020. Promotional products distributors can partner with non-alcoholic spirit brands to showcase their alcohol-free offerings and make Dry January a little less dry.
Sources: YouGovAmerica, AlcoholChange.org
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that 95,000 people die from alcohol-related causes every year, making alcohol the third-leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. (The first is tobacco and the second is poor diet and inactivity.) Promotional products distributors can work with bars, distilleries and wineries on campaigns encouraging consumers to moderate their consumption.
Distributors can use these ideas with bars, taverns, pubs and nightclubs to help drum up new business and create awareness for special promotions and events:
- Print table tent cards inviting patrons to share reviews on Yelp or Tripadvisor and to post photos of their experience on social media in exchange for a coupon to use on their next visit.
- Host themed nights such as Monday Night Football or Trivia Game Night and provide themed table or bar décor and commemorative glasses as a gift with purchase.
- Help clients sponsor a local minor league sports team or community event, such as a festival or race that benefits a charity, and provide logoed t-shirts, water bottles, banners and face towels.
- Help clients partner with their spirit vendors (such as liquor companies or craft breweries) to promote a special, limited-edition cocktail or brew, and provide the branded collateral including napkins, coasters, glasses, banners and signs, along with marketing to promote the event.
- Depending on the bar’s clientele, work with the client to invite a local musician to perform and suggest a few promotions to draw patrons in to listen and enjoy some drinks as well.
- Provide a selection of good-quality branded merch, including creatively designed t-shirts and caps, that patrons can purchase onsite. Pair the swag with a promotion that gives a discount with purchase when they wear the apparel into the bar.
March 27 - National Whiskey Day
April 7 - National Beer Day
May 25 - National Wine Day
July 24 - Tequila DaySource
Happy Hour: A Cocktail Card Game is an adult spin on card game Go Fish. Players collect illustrated cards and group them into categories such as brunch cocktails, Jazz Age cocktails and martinis. Customize it to keep your client’s brand name visible at cocktail parties and game nights.
The Book Company / PPAI 218850, S5 / www.thebookco.com
A promotional corkscrew makes a useful gift that keeps brands visible after a wine festival or vineyard tour. This handy corkscrew features a serrated foil blade and a stainless-steel corkscrew.
Beacon Promotions, Inc. / PPAI 113702, S10 / www.beaconpromotions.com
Vineyards can raise a glass to their employees with the Stainless-Steel Stemless Wine Glass Gift Box Set. The double-wall wine glasses feature a sip-through lid and fit securely inside a custom gift box.
Evans Manufacturing / PPAI 110747, S10 / www.evans-mfg.com
The Tailgate Hood is made for gameday, featuring a built-in neoprene beverage holder inside the pouch pocket. This cozy sweatshirt combines the comfort of a hooded sweatshirt with the functionality of bottle/can opener.
J. America (Wholesale Blanks Division) / PPAI 351699, S1 / www.jamericablanks.com
Pour up a good time and gain brand visibility with the 26-ounce Snowfox Carafe and eight-ounce Snowfox Stemless Wine Glasses. These vacuum-sealed products are available in an array of punchy colors and feature large, easy-pour openings that accommodate ice cubes.
The Allen Company / PPAI 113879, S5 / www.allenmugs.com
With the Coleman® 20-ounce Brewski Stainless Steel Tumbler, it’s always happy hour. This vacuum-insulated tumbler keeps beverages cold for 15 hours and features an integrated bottle opener in the bottom.
Crown/IMAGEN Brands / PPAI 113430, S10 / www.IMAGENBrands.com
A custom wine label can instantly elevate the perceived value of a bottle of wine. Whether you choose brown kraft stock for a vintage, rustic look, or you opt for foil stamping or embossing on the label, these labels add a luxurious touch to any bottle.
Label Works / PPAI 111141, S3 / www.labelworks.com
Uncork a memorable promotion with the Corkcicle Wine & Shine. This bundle includes two stemless wine cups and a 25-ounce canteen that can hold an entire bottle of wine. The sweat-free canteen keeps beverages ice-cold for up to 25 hours.
Incentive Concepts / PPAI 212912, S10 / www.incentiveconcepts.com
When a brand is noteworthy, make it part of someone’s everyday wardrobe with these fine custom neckties. Crafted of luxurious 100-percent silk, wet-dye fabric, jacquard weave or twill weave, each includes a private custom-woven label at no additional charge. It’s an appreciated gift or smart employee uniform option for those working in the wine and spirits industry.
Buffalo Bay / PPAI 111547, S4 / www.buffalobay.com
The Rustic Engraved Triple Wood Box With Custom Etched Wines And Glasses gift set includes a choice of two wines in deep-etched one-color fill bottles, plus deep-etched glassware. The slide-top wood box is laser-engraved with your client’s message or company logo and the bottles and glassware are nestled in excelsior wood shavings to complete the presentation. Impressive upgrades include a name brand wine, French champagne, wax dipped bottles and hang tags or card inserts.
A+ Wine Designs / PPAI 173549, S4 / www.apluswinedesigns.com
The exclusive Cocktail Bar Tool Roll Up contains six stainless steel bar tools: Boston cocktail shakers, strainer, muddler, bar spoon and a one-ounce/two-ounce double jigger. The rugged, vegan leather travel bag has a suede lining to protect the tools, adjustable shoulder strap and metal clips to secure the bag. A perfect gift for the mixologist on the go, it’s available in brown or black vegan leather.
Picnic Plus / PPAI 240870, S4 / www.picnicpromo.com
One winery opted to ring in its grand opening by giving a free bottle cooler bag to the first 100 guests. Perfectly sized to hold a bottle of wine, this bag from Beacon Promotions features a foam-insulated liner to keep wine at a great drinking temperature. The promotion helped the winery spread the word about its grand opening and enticed customers to return with the bag to purchase another bottle.
Source: Beacon Promotions
Audrey Sellers is a Dallas-Fort Worth-based writer and a former associate editor of PPB magazine.