What will be the big drinks trends for 2016?

By Ben Winstanley

- Last updated on GMT

Bibendum PLB insight team drinks trends for 2016

Related tags Alcoholic beverage Beer

From experience-led ‘big weekenders’ to older generations pushing premium spirits, what drinks trends should the on-trade brace for in 2016? Bibendum PLB’s Insights team have drawn their own predictions from various sources and the results are in.  

Older consumers will drive premiumisation in spirits


East London hipsters have been wrongly accredited with being the demographic most focussed on premium spirits for years. In 2015 this all changed when boutique spirits lost their association to Urban Professionals. Looking ahead to next year, this assumption will continue to be challenged by older, affluent drinkers such as Mature Foodies and the Moneyed Minority.

Demand for experience-led nights out from younger drinkers


The rise of the Big Weekenders (18-35 year olds with a household income of between £12-30,000) will be a key audience for the on-trade in 2016. This generation is less boozy and more health conscious than their predecessors, which is resulting in a decline in popularity of wet-led pubs and nightclubs towards a more experience-led night out. Big Weekenders are aspirational and are willing to spend but the pub and bar sector must keep up with their demands.

Reinvention of beer will grow beyond London (1)

The incessant rise of craft beer has no end in sight but perhaps the most significant impact of craft brewers has been the new lease of life they have given to popular styles, such as lager and pale ale. The premiumisation of the lager market in particular has grown in popularity this year with preference and sales up 7% in the on-trade.

In central London, 20% of pints sold are craft, compared with a meagre 3% in the north-east and 1% in Wales. With such disparity comes a big opportunity for businesses to steal a march on their neighbours in what they offer. It is possible that 2016 will see beer diversify greatly beyond the Capital. To ensure success, landlords and knowledgeable staff will be relied upon to communicate a beer’s flavour and provenance.

Rum on the rise


Although rum volumes have risen around 10% in the last five years, this growth has been for standard brands, meaning that the category has not premiumised to the same extent as most other spirits categories. Sales of golden rum are now exceeding white in the on-trade with both golden (+18% MAT) and dark (+9% MAT) rum showing considerable growth.

Drinkers are engaging more with the product, suggesting that there is significant scope for rum to follow in the footsteps of gin in the pursuit of quality small batch spirits.

A comeback for old world reds?

Wine bottles

White wine is winning over affluent drinkers, which correlates with more people drinking new wave aromatic styles. However, while the likes of Picpoul are proving persuasive, we believe that there are fewer new and interesting reds on wine lists. With awareness of varieties such as Barbera and Dolcetto on the up, now is the time for operators to act and revitalise their red offering. 

Related topics Spirits & Cocktails

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