BevAlc Insights’ 2022 Tequila Forecast
Tequila has been one of the hottest spirits over the past couple of years – here’s how to capitalize on interest
Tequila has been the fastest-growing spirits category in terms of share gains on Drizly over the past few years. This year is no different. Tequila holds 18 percent share of the liquor category on Drizly in the past year, with the top tequila sales seasons of spring and summer yet to come. It’s the latest in a steady rise that’s seen tequila share go from 10 percent in 2017, to 13 percent in 2019, and 15 percent in 2020.
Tracking Tequila’s Rise
“According to most industry experts, the tequila boom is just getting started,” says Benjamin Weingarten, the managing director of YaVe Tequila. “The general market is slowly becoming educated on the category, and many are in a discovery period for their preferred tequila. A high-quality, expansive tequila portfolio is and should continue to be an important draw to many consumers.”
According to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, agave-based spirits surpassed both rum and bourbon by volume in the U.S. in 2020. Overall tequila rose by more than 30 percent between 2015 and 2020, according to IWSR data. This growth has only continued: Data from the market research company IRI shows an 11 percent increase in retail dollar sales from 2020 to 2021.
“We know there is interest to try new things in this category,” says Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights. “We have seen consumers explore additional subcategories like reposado and añejo in recent years, as well as new brands.”
Premiumization Increasing Value for Tequila Selection
Premium and ultra-premium tequilas have been key trend drivers in recent years. Higher-priced segments within the category grew 60 percent from 2015 to 2020, according to IWSR. The IWSR also predicts a compound annual growth rate of more than 14 percent in volume and value of tequila’s ultra-premium segment from 2019 to 2024.
Two tequila trends that retailers should especially be aware of are premiumization and innovation, says Weingarten.
“As the entire tequila category grows, and the consumer slowly becomes more educated about the spirit, it makes sense that premiumization should continue trending upwards,” he notes. “Many high-quality, ‘premium yet affordable’ brands will continue to join the market, challenging for market share as the consumer becomes more quality-focused.”
Drizly’s Tequila Subcategory Share, Last 12 Months
- Silver / Blanco Tequila: 51 percent
- Reposado Tequila: 26 percent
- Anejo Tequila: 19 percent
- Gold Tequila: Two percent
- Flavored Tequila: One percent
Though silver/blanco tequila continues to comprise over half of the tequila sold on Drizly, this is shifting as consumers trade up and try new options. Reposado and añejo tequilas have gained share over the past 12 months compared to 2020. That year, reposado tequila held a 22 percent share of tequila while anejo had 16 percent share. Blanco tequilas, on the other hand, held a 57 percent share of tequila in 2020.
Over the past 12 months, the average añejo tequila price point on Drizly also rose 15 percent to $98, while reposados sit at an average of $57 and blancos $38.
“The rise in more premium, aged sipping tequilas has helped transcend tequila’s image to be more sophisticated,” says Adam Rogers, the North American research director for IWSR, who notes that celebrity endorsements have reinforced this notion.
But at the same time, brands are seeking innovation in other ways; producers like YaVe and Tanteo are venturing into the realm of high-quality flavored tequila.
Drizly’s Top-Selling Tequila Brands, Past Year
- Don Julio
- Clase Azul
- Jose Cuervo
- 1800 Tequila
- Casa Dragones
The two best-selling tequilas on Drizly are the same as in 2020, but there’s been some movement in the rest of the top 10 sellers that retailers should be aware of. Clase Azul moved up from number five to push Espolón, Patron, and Jose Cuervo down one spot each. Dwayne Johnson’s Teremana is new to the list as is Casa Dragones, while Milagro and Herradura dropped from the top 10.
“By leveraging this data to identify top-selling tequilas on Drizly, retail partners can invest in products that will capture the largest percentage of sales,” says Paquette.
However, it’s also important to balance these top-selling SKUs with unique options. “Drizly partners should invest in curating a collection that is unique to their personality as a store,” says Paquette. “Consumers are continuing to look for new and innovative products, and tequila will be no different.” The fastest-growing tequila brands on Drizly include Komos, Esperanto, Jenni Rivera, Lobos 1707, and Jarana.
“As always with fast-growing categories,” says Paquette, “retailers should balance shelf space with the established best-sellers while also bringing in new brands and product innovations.”
Who Is Buying Tequila?
Younger generations tend to over-index on tequila sales, with Gen Z holding eight percent of share on Drizly (versus five percent overall) and millennials holding 58 percent of share (versus 53 percent overall).
A wide tequila selection helps retailers with the youngest age group of consumers. “A winning assortment will contain a wide variety of tequila, as this is the leading spirit category among this age group,” says Bill Meissner, the president and CMO of Splash Beverage Group, which owns SALT Tequila.
Tequila is purchased by consumers year-round, but there is a slight increase in the spring and summer, as well as early fall. May, July, August, September, and October had the highest tequila share of the liquor category over the past year at 19 percent. June and February were close behind at 18 percent, while April, November, and December saw a 17 percent tequila share of the liquor category.
While the tequila category is growing across the U.S., Paquette recommends that retailers analyze customer demographics and regional market trends in order to make informed decisions about tequila purchasing. “Retailers can make a generalized assumption about growth in this category,” she says, “but should consider the specifics within their areas when deciding what to stock and how much shelf space to dedicate.”
New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, and Atlanta all over-index in tequila sales.
Gift Orders and Other Trends Pushing Tequila Sales Higher
One big factor in the rise in tequila share on Drizly is gift orders; 16 percent share of tequila sales on Drizly over the past year were gift orders, compared to 10 percent in 2020. By tequila subcategory, silver/blanco held a 34 percent share in the past year of tequila gift sales, reposado had a 33 percent share, and añejo a 31 percent share.
This is especially true for añejo tequila sales. The top-selling añejo on Drizly, Don Julio 1942, is a top choice for gift orders, and a 26 percent share of añejo tequila sales in the past 12 months were gifts. Comparatively, around 11 percent of liquor category sales overall are gifts, and Paquette says that premium tequila competes with other popular gift categories like high-priced whiskeys and Champagnes.
Drizly’s Most-Gifted Tequila SKUs, Past 12 Months
- Clase Azul Reposado Tequila
- Don Julio 1942
- Casamigos Blanco
- Patrón Silver Tequila
- Casamigos Reposado
- Don Julio Blanco
- Tequila Casa Dragones Blanco
- Espolòn Tequila Blanco
- Clase Azul Plata Tequila
- Casamigos Anejo
Tequila also falls into another rising trend: the increase and preference for ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails. According to IWSR, vodka and tequila are the dominant bases for RTDs, and more than 50 percent of new spirits-based RTDs between 2019 and the first half of 2021 were either based on vodka or tequila.
“While we have not seen signs of RTDs taking share from the core tequila category,” Paquette says, “the opposite effect may be the case as more consumers reach for tequila-based canned cocktails seems to be growing interest in the category overall.”