Ready-to-drink brands ‘will rise again’

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Rising from the ashes: RTDs set to grow again, claims producer
Rising from the ashes: RTDs set to grow again, claims producer
The producer of several ready-to-drink brands including Hooch, VK, Hoopers and newly launched Crooked has claimed the category is ripe for a restart, predicting rising category sales in the near future.

In an interview with The Morning Advertiser ​(MA​) Global Brands chairman Steve Perez said his company had already started to see an uptick in the sales of alcopops, driven by students and even older adults, who continued to drink them as part of their repertoire.

“We’re seeing growth in appeal and take up [of the likes of VK] and we think that’s because other RTD brands have declined and disappeared over the years,” said Perez.

However, the reputation of the category in the on-trade had suffered from the rise of more premium products, which had ultimately led operators to talk themselves out of stocking alcopops.

That said, Perez claimed much of VK’s sales growth – as well as some of Hooch’s – could be attributed to new drinkers entering the category, like university students.

Over the bomb culture

Students had gotten over the “bomb culture”, having the likes of several Jager Bombs on a night out was not appealing to them, and instead they were turning to longer drinks they could enjoy, he claimed.

To tap into the growing culture for craft, simplicity and cleaner drinks, Global Brands recently launched a range of alcoholic sodas​ under the new Crooked brand.

The new sodas are made using natural flavourings and have a craft beer-inspired design to appeal to consumers already drinking in the category.

“We’re seeing growth in Crooked because the category is becoming much more complex, especially compared with traditional RTDs,” added Perez.

“I think what’s happening in the RTD market – and this happens across all categories – is the trend is coming around again. Everything goes in and out of fashion at some point and RTDs are coming back.”

According to Perez and Global Brands, VK is driving category growth and helping to reverse well known decline in the category.

VK sales

In a statement about sales of VK, the company said: “With the best cash return on sales of all RTDs (CGA MAT P04 2017) and firmly standing as the fastest-growing RTD (CGA MAT P04 2017 – volume growth ALL RTDs) and the number one student RTD (NUS Drinks Tracker, 2016,15,14), VK is pivotal to the on-trade.

“Helping to reverse the decline of the RTD category (CGA MAT P04 2017 in value and volume)​, the seven unique flavours have become a staple of the student night out.”

Previously, SHS Drinks, producer of WKD, told MA ​the category needed to change its image​ if it was to remain relevant to modern-day consumers.

Head of brand marketing Amanda Grabham said: “Traditional RTDs tend to be holding up relatively well but the significant fall off in alcoholic ginger beer sales – most alcoholic ginger beer brands in the top 10 RTDs are in double-digit decline – has been having a big impact on the overall performance of the pre-mix category.

“The taste of fruity alcoholic drinks are as popular and appealing as ever to young adults but, for the future health of the category, there is a need for brand owners to make RTDs’ image more relevant to the 18 to 24-year-old consumers and get them to reappraise the RTD category in a new and contemporary light.”

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