From Functional to Low and Non-Alcoholic Beverages: How Natural Alcohol is Driving Innovation to the Category

August 30, 2021
by SPINS Marketing

Get to Know SPINS’ Alcohol Attributes and Categories

Today’s alcohol aisles and coolers are filled with more variety than ever, offering natural alcohol options as well as non-alcoholic alternatives to appeal to the health-conscious shopper. Long gone are the days of simply asking someone if they would like a beer or glass of wine. Which kind of beer or wine matters. Interested in a cocktail? You have a bevy of health-boosting mixers to choose from. Not drinking? You can still enjoy a delicious beverage with none of the alcohol.

Natural Alcohol Keeps Growing and Making Gains With Better-for-You Shoppers

Organic beer increased 20% across all channels over the last year, and single-serving, ready-to-drink cocktails had similarly strong growth. These options help drinkers stay true to their dietary goals or their overall healthy lifestyles while still enjoying their favorite libation. With this category quickly expanding, brands and retailers are looking for ways to not only keep up with consumer demands but also help lead the way.

SPINS’ Product Intelligence library reflects the way today’s shoppers choose their drinks of choice. (And we know that plenty of shoppers are looking for better-for-you drink options.) SPINS’ granular view of categories, subcategories, and attributes within the alcohol department make it easier for brand and retailers to specifically see what items people are picking up to solve some of the industry’s biggest challenges.

Keep Up With Growing Hard Cider and Beer Assortments

One of the common but annoying movie tropes is when someone asks a bartender for a beer—no mention of the type or any other details. As if there aren’t dozens of options to be found in any standard bar or grocery store. Just as wine drinkers are choosy about what goes in their glass, beer drinkers are equally as particular about the kind of bottle they want to crack open. If you’re going to properly track what beer drinkers are after, you want to get as granular as you can with your POS data—especially as beer varieties proliferate and hard cider gains new followers.

Until now, beer has been its own category in SPINS’ Product Intelligence library, while malt beverages, hard cider, and mead and braggot shared their own.  To better reflect today’s alcohol assortment, SPINS has a Beer & Hard Cider & Other Malt Beverages category, with subcategories for beer, flavored malt beverages & other, and hard cider. Hard kombucha resides in the flavored malt beverages & other subcategory, while mead and braggot are under Wine and placed within the fortified & other specialty wine subcategory.

With the attribute of beer type, beers are streamlined in SPINS’ Product Intelligence library: Craft, three types of domestic, and import beers are their own subcategories. Then, to help you get an even closer look at what today’s discerning beer aficionados are choosing, there are 31 product type attributes for beers, including bock, IPA, and pilsner.


Related: The State of Natural 2021 Report

Maximize Popularity of Fortified Wines

Wine remains a popular drink to go with dinner or to help unwind at the end of the day. With more information at their fingertips, shoppers don’t have to be connoisseurs to know there’s more to wine than simply red or white.  SPINS classifies wine in 5 subcategories that reflect buying habits: red, white, blush and rose, sparkling, and fortified (and other specialty). Retailers and brands can use this subcategory view to learn more about the variety of wine drinkers within their customer base.

What is fortified wine?

Fortified wine is a wine that has been “fortified” with a distilled spirit, often grape based. Whether or not customers know these beverages as “fortified wines,” they are popular, particularly in cocktails. Port, sherry, madeira, and vermouth are examples of fortified wines you can easily find in stores and in home bars.


Get a Closer Look at Spirits and Mixers with A Focus on Natural Alcohol

Although any good bar is stacked with spirits and mixers, they serve separate purposes. SPINS separates spirits and mixers into 2 distinct categories. Spirits include subcategories for spirits and liquors and ready-to-drink cocktails; mixers include subcategories for cocktail mixes and bitters & syrups.

What’s the difference between a spirit and a mixer?

Spirits, often used interchangeably with liquor, are fermented and distilled alcoholic beverages—think vodka or tequila. In a cocktail they are essentially the alcohol that anchors the drink. Mixers, however, are the non-alcoholic additions to the drink that add extra flavor and/or dilute the drink’s strength. They often include bitters, club soda, or simple syrups.

Mixers have 6 ingredient attributes, which reveal a health-focused mentality many shoppers are bringing to the alcohol aisle: super fruits, super greens, super mushrooms, nootropics, adaptogens, and nervines.

Keep an Eye on Zero Alcohol Options

Many people are choosing not to drink at all, or they are reducing their alcohol intake by opting for 0% ABV drinks most days. Rather than simply drink water when at a bar or hosting a dinner, they can choose alcohol free wines or liquors to make mocktails at home and feel like they’re part of the gathering.

Although highlighting non-alcoholic beverages might not seem like an obvious choice, it enables you to monitor an increasingly popular segment. Plenty of shoppers reach for alcohol-free options for a number of reasons. If you’re tuning out 0% ABV options, you’re not getting the full picture of what today’s drinking habits are like. Analyzing sales using the alcohol by volume attribute brings a more accurate picture of what’s on shelves and landing in shopping carts. To reflect shopper habits, SPINS has attributes to denote alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Stay Connected to Health-Conscious Drinkers

Wine, beer, and non-alcoholic options are mainstays for all demographics of shoppers. It’s a quickly evolving department that is constantly producing innovative items. To find out what exciting changes are happening in the alcohol aisle, or to see how SPINS can help you stay connected to your shoppers, contact us today.