The quickest way to win over new and existing customers is to have the products they’re looking for in stock and ready to deliver. Understanding trends in category growth nationally, as well as in your own market, can help your shop stay a few steps ahead of the trends. At BevAlc Insights, we examined Drizly’s nationwide sales data to help you — the retailer community — make smarter buying decisions that lead to faster sell through and a higher return on your inventory investment. Here’s what we found:

Drizly’s Top 10 Categories Nationally (based on sales)

  1. Red wine
  2. White wine
  3. Vodka
  4. Bourbon
  5. Silver/blanco tequila
  6. Hard seltzer
  7. Scotch
  8. Light lager
  9. Rosé
  10. Champagne 

The Fantastic Four

At the national level, the trend is remarkably consistent: Red wine, white wine, vodka, and bourbon always rise to the top. During the summer, white wine typically overtakes red wine as customers seek out something lighter to pair with warmer weather, but the ranking has remained consistent from 2018 through May 2020. 

While there is some variability at the market level, stocking a wide range of products in these categories will ensure your customers can find what they’re looking for. 

Tequila in the Spotlight

The category seeing the biggest year over year increase from January to June was tequila, specifically the unaged silver/blanco category. In 2019, the category held the number nine slot. One year later, it had risen to number five, adding a full 1 percent share increase. This is consistent with Nielsen data through May 30, which saw tequila outpacing other spirits categories. 

Tequila has been on a roll for some time. According to the Distilled Spirits Council, the overall tequila category grew to 20.1 million cases in 2019 from 7.2 million cases in 2002. According to Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights, the continued growth in 2020 is driven by two factors. “The first is cocktail culture, which has come home in recent months,” she says. “We know that this experimentation and shift in consumer consumption pre-Covid was already bringing greater attention to the tequila category.” Combining this existing interest with nationwide stay-at-home orders turned out to be a recipe for the significant share gain.

The second factor has been consumer willingness to spend more for tequila as they begin to understand it can be more than just a shooter. “We have really started to see premiumization take hold in the tequila category, with more upper tier brands entering the space,” Paquette says, noting that tequilas priced $30 or more are seeing a greater share of growth than lower priced products. 

This is the time to add more tequila offerings to your shop. According to Drizly’s data, the brands experiencing the highest growth include Casamigos, Clase Azul, Espolon as well as top performers such as Don Julio and Patron. Supplement these well-known brands with smaller production offerings available in your market to show off your shop’s specific personality — and increase your profitability.

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Hard Seltzer Diversifies while Lager Lags

Last summer, hard seltzer hit the Drizly top 10, where it has remained a major player ever since, taking share from beleaguered beer categories. “With hard seltzer entering the scene, light lager saw approximately a 1 percent share decrease and American-style lagers actually dropped out of the top 10 for the first time in recent history,” Drizly’s Paquette explains.

While remaining the top hard seltzer brand, White Claw is starting to see competition from other brands. The overall number of SKUs in the category has doubled over the past year, and customers seem willing to experiment, causing White Claw’s share of category to fall to 59 percent, down from 71 percent. The current top five list also include Truly (18 percent), Bud Light Seltzer (6 percent), High Noon (6 percent), and Bon V!V (3 percent). While White Claw should remain on every shelf where it can legally be sold, additional brands should also be stocked to add some variety for customers looking to try new options.

Stocking Wine for Summer

As the summer continues, we expect to see the silver/blanco tequila and hard seltzer categories continue their solid growth. A wet, rainy May resulted in a bit of a slow start for the rosé category, but June showed increases. For the time in years, due to oversupply, some 2018 rosés remain in stock even as 2019s have hit the shelves. When chosen carefully, you can find bottles that offer your customers excellent value while still turning a hefty profit. White wine is also hitting its seasonal stride, so now is the time to stock up.

The Champagne category was hit particularly hard during the throes of Covid closures, dropping to the number 10 spot versus number six during the same period last year. “This could be attributed to the fact that orders of these categories are often driven in large part by corporate or event orders, which saw a decline as consumers worked from home more on average,” Paquette says. As people head back to offices in your area, reach out to past corporate clients to check on their plans for small events or gifting opportunities.