With the UK on-trade under lockdown restrictions for much of 2020, there was a significant change in shopper behaviour as they tried to recreate elevated drinking experiences at home. A remarkable 68% of all households purchased spirits during the year1 – the thirst of knowledge and interest in how to make and mix spirits at home has exploded like never before.

Consequently, the UK retail mixer market grew 24% year-on-year2, culminating in a total off-trade market worth £345m3. This even eclipsed total grocery, which saw a rise of 12.3%4.

The trend was even more prevalent in the convenience market, where mixers grew by 47.9%5, as consumers shopped nearer to their homes. And as we progress through 2021, these trends of drinking at home and shopping in convenience are here to stay.

Key trends

Premiumisation drives category growth. The value sales in the UK off-trade mixer market are growing faster than the volumes sold6. This shows consumers are spending more money on higher-value products.

Home drinking occasions grew. During April and May 2020, the UK lost 230 million on-trade drinking occasions, but gained 180 million incremental at-home drinking occasions year-on-year7. More households bought spirits than beer and wine for the first time in 20201, suggesting a bright future for mixed drinks.

Flavour variety is key. Flavoured tonic water is growing at a faster rate year-on-year than Indian tonic water8 as shoppers look for different and exciting options. The number of shoppers of flavoured tonic in the convenience channel is also growing at 68.1%9.

The co-location opportunity. Shoppers are looking for a premium drinking experience and want variety in their mixer choices. Retailers can capitalise by co-locating premium mixers with spirits in-store. Not only can retailers make a better return from premium mixers, but merchandising alongside Fever-Tree increases premium gin sales by 66%10.

Key numbers

  • Fever-Tree is the UK’s off-trade bestselling mixer brand, with 40% market share11
  • Fever-Tree accounts for 43% of all off trade mixer category growth12
  • Fever-Tree has been voted the bestselling and top trending tonic water by the world’s best bars for the seventh year running13

Product highlight

  • Fever-Tree uses no artificial sweeteners or colours, relying on naturally-sourced ingredients to ensure a perfect carbonation and taste. If three-quarters of your drink is the mixer, you should mix with the best.
  • By blending subtle botanical oils with spring water and quinine of the highest quality from the ‘fever trees’ of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Fever-Tree has created delicious tonic waters with uniquely clean and refreshing taste and aroma.

Plan your shelf

Retailers should merchandise Fever-Tree with other tonic waters and adult soft drinks. To ensure sufficient choice, retailers should also stock the Fever-Tree Essential Range:

  • Fever-Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water 500ml
  • Fever-Tree Refreshingly Light Indian Tonic Water 500ml
  • Fever-Tree Refreshingly Light Mediterranean Tonic Water 500ml
  • Fever-Tree Refreshingly Light Elderflower Tonic Water 500ml

If retailers have more space they should offer larger volume in the form of Fever-Tree multipack cans and Fever-Tree Ginger Ale.

Takeaway tips

  • Ensure you are stocking a range of premium mixers to capitalise on drinking at home trends
  • Offer a variety of tonic water flavours so that consumers have choice
  • Capitalise on the opportunity of merchandising mixers alongside spirits
 

Sources:

Kantar Worldpanel, Total Spirits, Total Beer, Total Wine, Penetration, 52 weeks to 27 December 2020
2
IRI Marketplace, Total Mixers, Total Off Trade, Value Growth, 52 weeks to 27 December 2020 vs YA
3 IRI Marketplace, Total Mixers, Total Off Trade, Value, 52 weeks to 27 December 2020
4 Kantar Worldpanel, Total Grocery, Spend Growth, 52 weeks to 27 December 2020 vs YA
5 IRI Marketplace, Total Mixers, Total Convenience, Value Growth, 52 weeks to 27 December 2020 vs YA
6 IRI Marketplace, Total Mixers, Total Off Trade, Value & Volume Growth, 52 weeks to 27 December 2020 vs YA
7 Kantar Alcovision, June 2020
8 IRI Marketplace, Flavoured and Indian Tonic, Total Off Trade, Value Growth, 13 weeks to 21 March 2021 vs YA
9 Kantar Worldpanel, Independents & Symbols, Flavoured Tonic, Buyers, 52 weeks to 21 March 2020 vs YA
10 IRI Marketplace, Premium Gin Brand, Promotional Uplift, 2018
11 IRI Marketplace, Total Mixers, Total Off Trade, Value Share, 13 weeks to 27 December 2020 vs YA
12 IRI Marketplace, Total Mixers, Total Off Trade, Absolute Value Growth, 52 weeks to 16 May 2021 vs YA
13 Drinks International 2021