RTDs: down but not out

Although comprising less than 1% of the overall on-trade market, Ready To Drink products are nevertheless worth over €22 million a year to Ireland’s pubs and clubs according to Neilsen MAT figures to the end of March.

This is some 10.8% down on the MAT value to the same month in 2014 but the rate of decline in value is slowing.

As such, with sales of nearly 1.2 million litres – down 11.0% MAT compared to the end of the same month in 2014 – RTDs comprise 0.9% of the total on-trade Long Alcoholic Drinks market, a LAD market worth over €2.4 billion.

In all the hype around burgeoning sales in the flavoured cider and craft beer markets, could RTDs be getting overlooked by the publican?

It’s unlikely because RTDs have a reputation for continuously innovating and attracting attention through colourful presentation – both attributes closely associated with the notoriously fickle18-25 year-old target market, a demographic that can often be found peering across the bar counter at the contents of the chiller cabinet.

The on-trade market has changed in terms of the product choice available and the consumer’s knowledge of that product range.

RTDs therefore need to be innovative in order to hold the attention of this consumer demographic, a demographic that’s continuously being bombarded with increased breadth of choice in the flavoured cider market, an increasing range of craft beers and a market having to get familiar with the arrival of ‘speers’ or spirit-flavoured beers.

RTDs sell well at high-energy occasions such as in the nightclub as opposed to the more relaxed evening in the pub but here, too, actively promoting the product is essential to boosting sales.

“The RTD category is now more diverse than it has ever been,” agrees Joanne Charnock, Senior Account Manager with CGA Strategy in the UK, “The sweet fizzy alcopops that were the mainstay brands for so long, are now under increasing competition from a raft of NPDs as brands fight in a highly competitive fridge space.

“In recent years, suppliers have been keen to change consumer perception of RTDs and bring more much-needed credibility to the category.

“CGA Strategy’s latest figures show the [UK] category has declined in value by 13.4% in the last MAT, which equates to £41 million of value.

“The biggest challenge for RTD suppliers is to continue to move the category forwards. They need to be exciting for their younger, more fickle consumer base before they migrate to other categories.

“Brands tackle this by consistently innovating new flavour profiles and renewing packaging and promotions. Forward-thinking suppliers are also launching frozen pouches and more premium variations in an effort to breathe new life into this declining category.

“Despite the RTD category being in decline, the category still commands over a fifth of all fridge space and is still an important part of the on-trade,” concluded Joanne.

According to CGA’s Brand Index MAT Data to 2015 the total RTD category in the UK is still worth £264.1 million through sales of 294,633 hectolitres.


A WKD way with innovation

WKD pack redesign 2015 - OTlow
“Innovation – whether it’s new flavours, new products, new packaging, new promotions or creative marketing support – is the key to developing and growing any product category,” says Debs Carter, Marketing Director – Alcohol at WKD brand-owner SHS Drinks, “And I’d suggest it’s even more vital when it comes to RTD brands which are popular amongst 18 to 24-year-olds who’re always keen to try something new and keep up with the latest trends.”

SHS Drinks continually invests in New Product Development and innovative marketing support to ensure WKD remains the RTD of choice in this age group’s drinking repertoire. 2015 has already seen the introduction of a vibrant new pack design across the WKD range of flavours and the launch of a new Limited Edition flavour.



The new-look includes:


  • an evolution of the WKD logo
  • new bottle graphics which prominently feature the word ‘Original’ to emphasise the brand’s quality credentials and the role it plays as an established brand in the RTD category
  • attention-grabbing visuals on case outers which depict a crowd scene conveying the high-energy consumption occasions consumers associate with WKD
  • the addition of handle-holds on the 24 x 275ml bottle cartons making them easier to carry.


WKD’s new packaging is being rolled out alongside the new WKD Vegas Limited Edition launched last month which takes its cue from the vibrant nightlife and neons associated with the world-famous Vegas Strip.

WKD Vegas is being supported via heavyweight interactive social media activity, a targeted digital campaign and sampling at WKD Vegas-themed parties being held across all counties. Fun rate-of-sale-driving kits are also available from WKD distributor Barry & Fitzwilliam, enabling stockists to offer customers purchasing two bottles of WKD Vegas a free pair of gold sunshades with sideburns.

“The new packaging design reflects the premium positioning of WKD and also increases visibility and stand-out in the chiller,” says Debs Carter, “When we researched the new design consumers responded very positively to the fresh, contemporary look and the crowd scene image particularly resonated with WKD consumers.

“Our new WKD Vegas Limited Edition further reinforces the brand’s association with high-energy occasions by taking its name from Las Vegas, the party town associated with exuberant, fun nights out making it a perfect match for WKD!“

For sales enquiries contact: Barry & Fitzwilliam on 021 432 0900 or e-mail:



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