The rising trend of RTDs
The RTD sector category includes hard seltzers and RTD cocktails and according to Drinks Ireland, sales of cocktails and long alcoholic drinks were up by 60% last year. Hard Seltzers and RTD cocktails took the international market by storm during the pandemic, with global sales volumes up by 14% in 2021 following 26% growth in 2020 and this trend was mirrored here, according to Drinks Ireland.
The majority of sales were of imported RTDs but local producers have entered the market, with sales of Irish RTD brands up 7.4% between 2020 and 2021. Vincent McGovern, director of Spirits at Drinks Ireland, has pointed out the promise held by the RTD market, stating, “RTDs are another great innovation in the Irish spirits market that consumers have responded positively to. There are a diverse range of flavours and low-calorie options. We’re seeing Irish suppliers jump on this trend and this is set to continue,” he predicted.
While the origins of RTDs can be traced back to alcopops in the 90’s, the dust has been brushed off the category and a new wave of RTDs has emerged, driving innovation, growth, and ultimately recruiting new consumers to the category and consumers are eagerly embracing these convenient and refreshing drinks. While RTDs have managed to make inroads year-round, they have made a particular impact through the summer months as the demand continues to surge in the face of warmer weather and presence of outdoor events. Over the past 12 weeks, the segment is +10%* compared to the previous year. We look at the thriving RTD market, focusing on the performance of key brands and their impact on the industry.
*Value Sales L12Wks
Source: Collected EPOS data to 21 May 2023
A dominant force in the RTD category
Richmond Marketing has emerged as a pivotal player within the RTD category, solidifying its position as the second largest RTD supplier with an impressive 18% value share** with industry leading growth of 2% points during this period. Richmond’s expanding portfolio showcases its commitment to meeting consumer preferences, as they recently welcomed White Claw alongside its existing popular offerings like Four Loko and Kopparberg. Notably, three of Richmond’s RTD brands currently rank within the top 10, demonstrating its consistent ability to recruit leading brands. **Supplier value share L12wks
Leading the growth charge
Among RTD brands, Four Loko has emerged as a considerable player in the category in just two years since its launch into Ireland. It was built into infamy amongst Irish consumers who recognised the brand from time spent in the US on their “J1s”; Four Loko’s launch into the market has challenged the category with its unique proposition as their single unit, large format (440ml) 8.5% cans catering to new, high tempo drinking occasions. In the last 12 weeks, Four Loko has witnessed a remarkable surge in value sales, experiencing a staggering +118% growth YoY. This outstanding performance has earned Four Loko the distinction of being the fastest-growing RTD brand in the Top 25. The brand’s ability to capture consumer interest and loyalty reflects the growing appeal of this unique brand as they continue to refresh their range with innovative flavour offerings.
Making waves in the RTD scene
Since joining the Richmond brand family in March 2023, White Claw has generated considerable buzz within the industry. A revolutionary brand, White Claw disrupted the RTD category in the US when it launched in 2016 with an entirely new tasting hard seltzer – rapidly growing in popularity with consumers to become the number one hard seltzer brand in the US in 2019. Its success in the US can be attributed to the innovative nature of the product, its alignment to evolving consumer tastes and demands coupled with its effective marketing strategies. As a growing segment of the Irish population focus more on health and wellness, White Claw is perfectly primed to tap into the growing demand for healthier alcoholic beverage options. White Claw delivers a balanced, refreshing taste that’s only 95 calories per 330ml can, creating an alternative for traditional beer and cider drinkers. Committed to pioneering the better-for-you drinking experience, the brand has shown its commitment to consumer activations showing up in key summer music venues Musgrave Park, Fairview and Malahide Castle and as the hard seltzer sponsor for music festivals Forbidden Fruit and Mother Block Party. Later this summer the brand will continue the trend with activations at All Together Now and Electric Picnic capturing the attention of Irish consumers. The early signs of success are evident, as White Claw has achieved a +6% growth*** heading into summer. This upward trajectory highlights the brand’s ability to resonate with consumers and establish a strong foothold in the competitive RTD market.
*** Volume sales L4wks
A resurgent player in the RTD landscape
Ranked as the tenth-largest RTD brand in the market*, Kopparberg has witnessed a resurgence in recent times. Kopparberg originally rose to fame off the back of their hugely successful Strawberry & Lime fruit cider. Building on their “Famous for Flavour” pillar, they expanded into Strawberry & Lime Gin RTD cans which have experienced a remarkable +16% growth*. Kopparberg’s ability to tap into consumer preferences for unique flavours and refreshing options has contributed to their renewed success, reinforcing their relevance in the ever-evolving RTD landscape. The RTD category is thriving, propelled by a growing demand for convenient and refreshing beverages. Key players like Four Loko, White Claw, and Kopparberg are at the forefront of this dynamic market, capturing consumer attention with their innovative offerings. As the upward trajectory of RTD sales are expected to continue, presenting exciting growth opportunities for both established brands and emerging players in the industry, it will be critical to ensure the right RTD space and range is allocated behind the bar to capitalise on this growing trend. While summer continues to be a key trading period for RTDs, these brands will all take aim at maintaining sustained sales and consumer attention year-round as RTD beverages become a staple choice for consumers in the alcohol category.
**Supplier Value Share L12Wks
***Volume Sales L4Wks
Source: Collated Epos Data to the 21 May 2023
Bringing the Buzz back to RTD’s!
The Slattery Group recently launched the American sensation BuzzBallz Cocktails into the Irish market. The brand has fast become the fastest growing brand in the RTD section. With growth of over 400% year to date.
The consumer response has been amazing in both the on-trade and off-trade. According to Karl Slattery, managing director of Michael Slattery Wines & Spirits, BuzzBallz has brought fun, novelty and much needed excitement into the entire drinks trade.
“This is something different from the other brands. The liquid tastes brilliant, the variety is amazing, and I think consumers appreciate that they are getting a quality cocktail in a unique package at a great price,” he said.
BuzzBallz Cocktails are available in six flavours; Strawberry Rita, Tequila Rita, Espresso Martini, Choc Tease, Chili Mango and Lotta Colada. All of these variants are produced with premium spirits, real fruit juices, natural flavours and ingredients. Unlike most pre-mixed ready-to-drink brands BuzzBallz are produced at bar-strength (13.5% ABV).
Buzz Ballz is retailing at €5 per ball and is situated beside the other ready to drink alcohol premixed drinks in store. Ideally, they are situated in the store fridge so they can be enjoyed cold for optimal refreshment.