Will tech unlock at home cocktail making?

Rog Harrison

Rog Harrison


I don’t think anyone would argue the world is a little different now than it was a year ago. Some people are saying digital transformation has accelerated by five to ten years. Some people think the technology genie is out of the bottle and life will never be the same as a year ago. Others feel post pandemic life will go back to where it was. As usual the reality is probably somewhere in the middle.

Perhaps our recent experience points to where things are evolving. We have been very fortunate this year to have been working in the cocktail category submerging ourselves in consumer data & witnessing the dramatic consumer behavioural changes.

Many spirits commentators have commented on the growth internationally of cocktail making at home and point to the 10 million UK on trade cocktail drinkers yearning for their favourite cocktails. We are seeing at home cocktail consumption in dramatic growth and that is born out by the spirits companies welcoming strong off trade growth. Brands like Bacardi have launched apps like Mixlab to capitalise on this trend, but is this just a rum and coke or a Mojito that is being made at home? 

We know search terms for cocktail making have grown dramatically, but is that driven by online specialist retailers? We know over Christmas that cocktail making was very popular over Zoom with company Christmas parties, with one company – Zest presenting in front of 10,000 people from end of October to New Year’s Eve, but is that because the on trade was closed? We are seeing the growth of cocktail ingredients like mint leaves from grocery retailers, but is that for salads? 

When we started analysing the data it is clear that at home cocktail making is in strong growth, but as you start talking to consumers you realise that we have all decided to learn a bunch of new skills. You hear people have learnt new skills in baking, cooking, home pizza ovens, furniture making, DIY, languages, a new sport, or building an office in the garden shed – the list goes on.

Now does tech lead consumers or do consumers lead tech? With what we are currently seeing in the startup space there is a bucket full of businesses that are using tech to empower people to have greater skills and be better informed. One great example is Lick the online paint retailer who provides expert advice on colours and trends, but also provides a bucket load of digital tools to develop your expertise.

Going back to cocktails we believe like many other categories at home cocktail making growth is here to stay, and tech will fuel its continued growth. The barriers today are consumers not knowing what ingredients to put into their favourite cocktails, how to make them, & more importantly not wanting to spend lots of money on spirits & ingredients they won’t need.

A barrier to growth for cocktail making at home and any food or drink you are preparing is immediacy, but both in the US and the UK that is changing as some platforms like drizly are offering 60 minute delivery. Imagine all your cocktail ingredients at your door ordered that afternoon ready for the evening. All we now need is an app that helps you make your perfect cocktail before your guests arrive after lockdown finishes. 

What is a truth is that the consumer is ready for a breakthrough digital product to transform their habits, but when will it appear?

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