Ready for lift-off

Ready for lift-off

Molson Coors Beverage Company announced three new partnerships as part of the launch of Molson Coors’ Beverage Hub, a division within its European business unit dedicated to building the company’s growing portfolio of brands.

The development marks the move into emerging, fast-growth categories such as ready-to-drink beverages, adult soft drinks and premium spirits, particularly as growing numbers of consumers are on the look-out for ready-to-drink options, premium spirits and aspirational adult soft drinks.

NPD has matched growth opportunities to produce low calorie and low ABV offerings, a focus on natural ingredients, the rise of the canned format, ever more sophisticated flavours, and Instagram-friendly brands that meet consumer health-focused lifestyles.

The addition of Jimmy’s, Lixir Drinks and Tarquin’s to the Beverage Hub portfolio follow Molson Coors’ launch of the hard seltzer brand Three Fold and partnerships with Bodega Bay and Miami Cocktail Company, announced last year.

The move shows RTD makers have clear intent to match and outdo the quality and choice on offer elsewhere. Even before the pandemic, there were three main drivers: convenience, on-the-go consumption and health & well-being. 

ING points out that consumers want convenience due to the versatile nature of ready-to-drink beverages. You can have a pre-mixed, canned cocktail “without the hassle of a pantry with numerous ingredients.” Crucially, ready-to-drink options also make it easier to meet different flavour preferences – giving consumers the convenience of having what they want, when they want it.

Health & well-being is the second main driver behind the growth of the ready-to-drink market. Functional ready-to-drink beverages fit as an alternative to carbonated soft drinks, with lower sugar content, natural flavours and ingredients suiting consumers looking to cut down alcohol and sugar intake with a degree of some indulgence and a healthy lifestyle. 

The ready-to-drink market was the only category to experience growth during 2020, according to ING and more growth is very likely. According to the drinks industry analytics group IWSR, between 2019- 2024, the market is expected to grow by 41%.

IWSR has also said there is another gap in the market: high strength seltzers emerging as a new sub-category. Premium spirits brands have been developing RTD versions of their spirit lines, with craft distilleries launching spirit-based RTDs made with local ingredients or botanicals, creating more herbaceous and complex pre-mixed options.

Due to the portable nature of the category, Instagram-friendly design is key – and will meet the requirement for canned and bottled formats at the beach or at festivals.

Undoubtedly, consumers are now more aware of what they are putting into their bodies than ever before. RTDs are attractive options, being lighter, lower in carbs and lower in alcohol while in keeping with the overall health and wellness trend. The appeal of RTDs in this respect is drawing a number of brewers to enter the RTD market, as consumers change habits and seek out products that seem to offer moderation.

The positive effects of this ‘health halo’ means these types of drinks will dominate future NPD.

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