According to GuestMetrics, based on its extensive proprietary database of POS transactions from restaurants and bars, sales of cocktail drinks grew +1.9 percent in 2012 compared to 2011, which was disproportionately driven by sales of flavored drinks. The data is based on analyzing 24 months of data representing more than $8 billion dollars in transactions and more than 250 million checks across the entire US.
“In analyzing the nearly 2,000 unique cocktail types captured in our system and comparing sales for full year 2012 versus full year 2011, we see that cocktails grew nearly 2 percent. However, this growth was driven largely by cocktails that have a specific flavor associated with the drink,” says Bill Pecoriello, CEO of GuestMetrics LLC. In addition to analyzing the 2,000 cocktail types, GuestMetrics has also classified the flavors of each cocktail. “While flavored cocktails make up about 26 percent of cocktail sales, they accounted for 51 percent of the incremental growth in 2012.”
According to Pecoriello, flavored cocktails grew 3.9 percent in 2012 versus the more tepid pace of 1.3 percent experienced by regular cocktails without a specific flavor associated with them.
“This disparity in growth rates of flavored drinks over non-flavored drinks is also evident in the types of cocktails sold, with the largest category share gains experienced by Margaritas and Mojitos, while at the other end of the spectrum, we see that Cosmopolitans and Martinis experienced the greatest share loss in 2012,” says Peter Reidhead, VP of strategy and insights at GuestMetrics. Based on data from GuestMetrics’ POS database, the specific flavors that achieved the largest share gains across all cocktail types in 2012 versus 2011, in descending order of their share growth in basis points, were Mango (+35), Tea (+30), Ginger (+15), Melon (+15), and Cucumber (+10).
“As the pressure to innovate continues to grow, it will be increasingly important for the various spirits companies to have a finger on the pulse of what is really driving the incremental growth in on-premise,” continues Pecoriello, “and based on our data, we believe having a detailed understanding of which specific flavors are growing the fastest is a critical factor when these companies consider line extensions for their existing brand portfolios. Staying on top of the latest flavor trends will be critical as consumer tastes continue to change and the duration of flavor trends varies from market to market.”
“For restaurant and bar operators it is critical to manage cocktail assortment and increase exposure to the fastest growing cocktail types and flavors while reducing dependence on cocktail types and flavors which are falling out of favor” says Brian Barrett, president of GuestMetrics. “The success of a beverage alcohol program is one of the most important differences between those operators enjoying strong sales and traffic and those experience declining sales and profits.” The results vary widely by city and by restaurant type, requiring detailed local market information in order to drive traffic and improve profits. In 2012, the cocktail flavor types that lost the most market share are Apple, Chocolate, Pomegranate, and Banana.