Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Spirits overtake wine in shopping baskets

Published:  01 April, 2021

Spirits reached a major milestone in 2020, overtaking wine to become the largest category in terms of penetration in the off-trade for the first time in at least five years.

The end of 2020 saw many of the emerging year's trends finally break through to new ground, including online shopping, which eclipsed the convenience channel during the Christmas period.

Spirits too reached an important milestone in 2020. Over the course of the year, spirits overtook wine to become the largest category in terms of penetration in the off-trade – the first time this has happened in several years.

“Most of that growth comes from flavoured spirits and shoppers looking to treat themselves a little bit more,” said Laura Christen, client manager at Kantar. “This tallies with our motivations data, which shows that ‘treating’ and ‘spending quality time’ with loved ones was the fastest-growing motivation for spirits occasions in the off-trade last year. One in 10 spirits drinks in 2020 was [consumed] with the motivation of treating following a pretty tough year; and this goes hand in hand with the rise of cocktail consumption in the home.”

As defined by Kantar, ‘penetration’ is the percentage of households purchasing in the chosen category at least once during a specific time period.

For 2020, this means that the number of shoppers who chose spirits as a purchase option at least once was higher than for still wine, while beer was pushed into third place. Still wine has historically been the biggest category in terms of shoppers’ regular buying habits in the off-trade.

According to the figures from Kantar, 68% of GB households bought spirits at least once in 2020, overtaking still wine at 67.7%. This is a marked difference to 2017 when spirits were at 61.7% penetration and still wine was at 70.1%, with the shift attributed largely to the younger generation, which has experimented with cocktail-making and demonstrated treating behaviour during lockdown.

The data was shared exclusively with Harpers for our Think Insights UK Market Off-Trade Overview last week. Also to emerge from the session was a new tipping point for online and convenience channels, which came to a head in December. While younger shoppers are responsible for fuelling spirits growth with at-home bartending and cocktail making, it was the older generation that finally pushed ecommerce ahead of in-store penetration.

In the Christmas period [12 weeks], “online doubled its shopper base, adding 1.4 million shoppers”. As a result of this shift during that same time frame, £34m moved from the supermarket channel to online.

“For online, older shoppers really flocked to purchase in the ecommerce channel. Retired shoppers right at the end of the spectrum jumped their penetration from 3.7% last year to 10.7% in 2020 over the Christmas period. So one in 10 retired shoppers bought online last Christmas, and that’s a trend we’ve seen not just in spirits, but across all of FMCG as older shoppers are forced to shop online due to restriction of movement,” Christen concluded.

For the full breakdown, and for more content from our Think Insights event, see this month’s print and digital edition of Harpers. You also watch the session on Youtube