While warming temperatures and traditional springtime celebrations naturally evoke shifts in consumer preferences, the 2022 season is already revealing new and noteworthy beverage consumption trends – some of which upend long-standing norms. 

Tequila, a category long relegated to mixing and specific occasions, has the potential to surpass vodka in popularity this season as new brands enter the marketplace and consumers continue to explore agave-based offerings. In 2021, tequila accounted for 18 percent share of the liquor category – up from 15 percent in 2020 and 13 percent in 2019. In the same time period, vodka share has declined over the past few years, accounting for 22 percent share in 2021, down from 23 percent share in 2020 and 30 percent in 2019.

Similarly, sparkling rosé wines are experiencing a notable consumption spike as consumers reach for this traditional springtime favorite with a twist. Likely the result of newly released Prosecco Rosé wines, this subcategory nearly doubled in 2021 and is poised to grow in 2022.

Meanwhile gifting – a category previously relegated to Q4 and the traditional holiday season – is showing serious staying power as consumers turn to online retail platforms to celebrate smaller occasions and everyday wins even as pandemic gathering restrictions ease. 

Read on for BevAlc Insights’ predictions for spring 2022 trends, and discover how well-stocked retailers stand to gain.

Tequila Continues to Gain Share

“Growth of the tequila category has been driven by increased consumer awareness and use cases for the category,” says Paquette. “What was once a drink for specific occasions, like Cinco De Mayo and cocktails like margaritas has now become mainstream for everything from sipping on the rocks or stirring into tequila sodas.” 

Paquette predicts tequila consumption will continue to rise this season as key spring occasions like Cinco de Mayo and increased consumer awareness drive consumption. Brands are also taking note: The number of tequila products on Drizly has grown by 12 percent in the past year, suggesting new products are entering the category and retailers are dedicating more inventory to tequila. 

Within the broad tequila category, consumption trends are mirroring those seen across the liquor category at large: Premiumization and aged products are gaining popularity. Añejo and reposado offerings continue to dominate category gains, with four of the top five fastest-growing SKUs in 2022 to date on Drizly falling into these aged tequila subcategories. This rise mirrors the growth of single-barrel whiskey SKUs, suggesting consumers are interested in unique offerings across spirits categories. Simultaneously, the average unit price for tequilas year-to-date is $49, up from $46.70 in 2021 and $41.20 in 2020. 

Rosé Rises, but with Bubbles

Rosé has become a spring classic over the past five years, and BevAlc Insights expects rosé to see its traditional seasonal gains while predicting sparkling rosé wines will experience above average growth in 2022. 

Rosé wines made up an average of eight percent of wine share in 2021, peaking at 11 percent of share in June and July. Within the category, sparkling rosé wines accounted for 2.5 percent share of the wine category. Though small overall, sparkling rosé consumption was up nearly 50 percent year-over-year in 2021 over 2020, when the sub-category accounted for just 1.7 percent of share. Partly, this trend could be due to expanded regulations in Prosecco – a popular area for sparkling wines – which began allowing the production of rosé wines in 2020. 

According to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, the expansion of the Prosecco region into rosé wine is a key driver of the category’s growth. “The IWSR saw sparkling rosé wine collectively increase over 20 percent by case volume for calendar year 2021, compared to 2020. Nearly 80 percent of the segment’s volume comes from Italy which experienced a 23 percent uptick led by rosé Prosecco,” says Adam Rogers, the North American research director for IWSR. “France, with nearly a 10 percent volume share of the segment, increased by 36 percent, led by both rosé Champagne and non-Champagne sparklers. With spring now upon us, it’s expected that the notable consumer demand achieved last year for sparkling rosé wine will be compounded as the weather warms up.”

Drizly’s fastest-growing sparkling rosé SKUs year-to-date in 2022 mirror those trends: Two of the top five fastest-growing SKUs are Prosecco offerings – La Marca Prosecco Rosé and Josh Cellars Prosecco Rosé – rounded out by a premium rosé from well-known Champagne Veuve Clicquot, Torre Oria Cava Brut Rosé, and newcomer Jade Moldova Sparkling Rosé. 

Ready-to-Drink (RTD) Innovations Evolve

As RTD cocktails continue to gain share year-over-year, the category is likely to see gains this season as consumers reach for lighter, fruitier beverages. 

“From an innovation perspective we have seen more and more brands launching new RTD flavors, many based on classic cocktails, that go far beyond the ‘vodka-soda’ style RTDs that initially helped the category take off as a close competitor to hard seltzer,” explains Drizly head of consumer insights Liz Paquette. Year-to-date, seven of the the top ten fastest-growing RTD SKUs on Drizly boast classic cocktail flavors, including the Bombay Sapphire Gin & Tonic, Dogfish Head Scratch-Made Cocktails Cherry Bergamot Whiskey Sour, Uptown Cocktails Piña Colada, and margarita flavors from several brands. 

This trend comes as increased competition and market saturation stall growth for traditional hard seltzers. “Hard seltzer accounted for 3.3 percent of share in 2021, down slightly from 2020, suggesting that the category has faced increased competition from crossover categories like RTDs,” says Paquette.

Gifting Goes Year-Round

Gifting continues to be on the rise in e-commerce, accounting for 10 percent of order share on Drizly in 2022 to-date. In 2021, gifting made up 11 percent share of orders annually – nearly double pre-pandemic levels. Drizly expects growth in this category to continue in spring, especially around traditional spring occasions such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, and graduations.  

“Awareness has been the key driver of this trend,” says Paquette, who notes many consumers didn’t know Drizly offered a gifting option prior to 2020. “The pandemic brought increased awareness to the offering as consumers sought ways to celebrate and send gifts from afar more than ever. Now even as the pandemic restrictions ease, gifting remains a helpful solution to reach loved ones or colleagues, etc around the country.”

In order to capitalize on the surge of gifting orders, Paquette recommends not only sourcing popular gift items but considering user experience from start to finish: “Operations are key to deliver on a good gifting experience – both for the gift-givers and recipient so retailers should focus on providing an excellent customer experience, like including gift note and gift wrapping.”