group of people joining their wine glasses to cheers showing growth in category

Natural Alcohol Trends: 3 Ways Shoppers Are Changing Happy Hour in 2022

Navigating through the Innovation and Trends Happening in Natural Alcohol

From New Year’s Eve to sporting events to dinner, the right spirits in a glass can also keep our spirits high. Today, alcohol aisles are filled with endless options to please any shopper, but this year you can expect even more innovative products to hit the shelves. Every day it seems like new brands enter the market and established ones get a fresh new face, meeting the ever-changing consumer demands and natural alcohol trends that will change for the category in 2022.

What’s considered natural alcohol? Natural alcohol beverages are formulated as organic, low-calorie options that appeal to the health-focused mentality many shoppers are coming in with. This can also include the addition of more functional ingredients such as super fruits, nootropics and adaptogens. The natural alcohol innovation is expanding the category as brands are now offering a wider range of options that meet this demand, even offering non-alcoholic alternatives so those who don’t drink can still enjoy the taste.

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Ready to Drink Cocktails Outpace Mixology Pairings

Leave the mixers and the liquor for the local bartender because this year, RTD cocktails are offering all the flavor and punch of your favorite concoctions from the comfort of your own couch. With options for everyone from whiskey sours to piña coladas, and in every delivery method from cans to popsicles to gelatin shots, these cocktails are outpacing the Spirits and Liquor subcategory. In 2021, these concoctions brought in over $686 million in sales, with innovative flavors, budget-friendly price points and high visibility product placement.

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RTD cocktails +43 YAGO

Beer Remains an American Fridge Staple with a Twist

Even as the alcohol category becomes saturated with new products, flavors and forms, beer continues to be a crowd favorite, only showing a small slowdown after record growth during pandemic shutdowns.

From television shows and movies to commercials and billboards, beer is depicted as the magic elixir to ending a hard day or getting the party started, but there is a growing demand from consumers for brands to start offering non-alcoholic beer in tandem with its alcoholic counterpart. Non-alcoholic beer has grown 28.9%, with non-alcoholic craft beer dominating this new subcategory. All the nostalgia and social comforts without the need for a rideshare or designated driver at the end of the night.

2 brand images of craft beers showing growth in non-alcoholic beer options
Sales on-the-rise as NA beer quality improves

The rise of Craft NA Beers has brought a wide range styles to the NA market, such as Athletic Brewing with IPA up 998% and Untitled Art with Stout up 45%.

Leveraging Shopper Loyalty to Break into Another Market

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone out there who hasn’t seen, heard of or tried a hard seltzer. The same thing can be said about flavored malt beverages -- think of the kind of drinks you most likely drank in college, that’s an FMB. Hard Seltzers have become a quintessential summer drink with their refreshing and light taste, and FMBs are akin to drinking your favorite childhood juices with an added twist – these desirable brews outpaced beer in growth for the second year in a row.

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These categories have their top competitors, but many non-alcoholic seltzer and energy drink brands are looking to earn their marks by using their current popularity and shopper recognition to transition into the alcoholic category with flavors consumers already love.

How Retailers Can Bring Innovative Alcoholic Beverages to Shoppers

For Retailers, watching out for these trends is a must as the alcohol category has been spurring innovations that often trickle down into non-alcoholic beverages. Keep an eye on which alcohol category is selling best in your store and see what flavors or brands are out there that you could add to give your shoppers something new to try. Position new products at the front of your alcohol aisles, next to old standbys to catch the experimental drinkers and the traditionalists.

How Brands Can Innovate their Alcoholic Beverages

For Brands, look at your current product line and see if there is a piece of the puzzle missing that aligns with the most up and coming alcohol trends. If you are a hard seltzer brand, consider the growth in RTD cocktails and try your hand at adding those flavors to your lineup. If you are a craft beer brand, see if you could add a non-alcoholic option to appease those who love the taste without the buzz. Leverage your customer loyalty to expand your products.

Learn About All the Trends You’ll Be Seeing in 2022

Alcohol is a growing category with new products entering the market every day and 2022 isn’t going to be any different. To find out what other trends you can be on the lookout for this year, watch our on-demand webinar or download the report on “2022's Biggest Health & Wellness Shopper Trends with Product Intelligence”.

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