Libation Rotation: How Alcohol Consumption Trends Have Changed in a Quarantine Environment.

Some notable trends have formed due to staying at home

The significant increase in the importance of home entertainment, we believe, is likely to endure even as people venture back out.

First, it is interesting to point out that based on a variety of surveys, it appears that Americans are drinking about the same amount of alcohol, and in some cases more, than when the pandemic hit. It would appear then, that they are simply changing where they drink—less in bars and restaurants, and more at home.

While “Zoom beers” or cocktails reflect both social distancing and digital communication, as we see in many sectors often the pandemic is simply accelerating social and economic trends already in place. For example, one major trend percolating for several years is the idea of “home-tainment”, it’s a shift in consumer behavior in which people are spending more time entertaining at home versus going out.

This shift in consumer behavior has led to significant growth in home cocktail brands, most recently exhibited in brands such as Malibu rum and Kahlua. There has also been a spike in coffee cocktails, with White Russians leading the charge (one industry participant suggested this has corresponded to binge-watching of The Big Lebowski—hard to see this as an enduring trend, but it is interesting nonetheless, particularly given the spread of “coffee culture”).

Some surprises regarding consumer behaviors

Many of the major beverage makers were anticipating some “downtrading” in terms of brand name purchases; the surprise to me so far during the pandemic is the amount of “uptrading” that is going on. In effect, people are saying if I can’t have a few drinks with my friends at the bar, I am going to take that money (and maybe more) and buy top-shelf liquor for my home. Cognac is a great example of an unexpected premium beneficiary of the lockdowns and changing consumption patterns, helping boost brands like Remy Martin.