As summer shifts into fall, consumer beverage preferences evolve in tandem, reflecting cooler weather and a switch from summer’s outdoor celebrations to cozier autumn events. This year, early data from across the Drizly universe shows several trends emerging, including a potential reversal of some of the most dominant trends over the past several years.

Read on to discover BevAlc Insights’ top predictions for fall 2022 beverage trends across the Drizly platform and gain insights on how to take advantage of seasonal buying patterns. 

Premiumization Trends Could Slow

Rising inflation coupled with a general mood of economic concern among American consumers point to a potential slowdown of the premiumization trends that accelerated in mid-2020. According to data from NielsenIQ, 43 percent of consumers indicated they expect to feel less economic security in the next six months, with 28 percent concerned with their ability to cover day-to-day expenses over the next six months. 

Though beverage alcohol is experiencing a lower inflation rate than the national average – four percent compared to 9.1 percent, according to data from NielsenIQ – prices are already rising across categories. 

“The average unit price on Drizly is up across the board on beer, wine, and spirits year-over-year in 2022 to date compared to the same time period in 2021, ” says Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights, noting that the average unit price increase across categories is $1. The cost of beer is already up 13 percent over 2021, while wine and liquor have seen six and three percent increases over 2021, respectively. “This is likely more the result of inflation and rising costs than trading up,” Paquette adds. 

This uptick in prices across the board may inspire some consumers to seek out value-priced offerings. However, Jon Berg, the VP of beverage thought leadership for NielsenIQ, points out that beverage alcohol sales tend to remain strong even during periods of economic challenge. 

“Shoppers typically move around their product repertoire depending on their need state. Since consumers who are unaffected by inflation and the economic woes caused by COVID-19 are driving beval [sic] sales, trading down isn’t a major area of concern,” he says. “In fact, consumers tend to view premium beval [sic] products as an ‘affordable luxury,’ with premium spirits and over-$20 retail wines both experiencing double-digit growth rates since 2019, and sales of imported beer continuing to increase.” Indeed, average order volumes on Drizly are up seven percent in 2022 to date compared to 2021. 

Retailers should be mindful of the results of inflation and consumer sentiment at the register, and may want to consider stocking a wider variety of items across price segments to keep consumers shopping. 

Non-Alcoholic Spirits Are a Category to Watch

“While all categories have seen growth across non-alcoholic offerings, non-alcoholic spirits have been the fastest growing across all three categories,” says Paquette. “With the increasing innovation in non-alcoholic spirits, both as ingredients to mocktails as well as ready-to-drink products, it is a category to watch going into the fall.” 

While beer remains the largest non-alcoholic category on Drizly by volume, non-alcoholic spirits are experiencing notable growth: Though the category remains small overall, it has grown to 0.1 percent share within the liquor category. 

The expansion of non-alcoholic spirits is likely driven by younger consumers eager to incorporate non-alcoholic alternatives into their lives. According to Drizly’s 2022 Consumer Report, 38 percent of Gen Z drinkers and 25 percent of millennial consumers reported replacing at least some traditional drinks with non-alcoholic versions. Conversely, only eight percent of baby boomers and 15 percent of Gen X consumers reported substituting non-alcoholic drinks for traditional alcoholic beverages. 

With the popular Sober October initiative approaching, this segment is poised for continued growth, and retailers should consider including non-alcoholic spirits options within their inventories.

Vodka Comes Back

Spirits traditionally see growth during the fall months – in 2021, the category expanded to 45 percent of share during the fall months compared to 44 percent overall – and the coming months are no exception, with vodka and tequila likely leading the way. 

Tequila, the red-hot category of recent years, is likely to continue growing: In 2022 to date, tequila accounts for 19 percent share of the liquor category – a gain of nearly two percentage points over the same period in 2021. 

Though traditional, unflavored vodka sales have waned in recent years, a resurgence for the classic spirit looks probable. Vodka has already seen a slight share gain in 2022 to date, increasing to 19.6 percent of share from 19.4 percent in 2021. In addition, respondents in Drizly’s 2022 Consumer Report survey cited vodka as the top spirit they anticipate buying more of in 2022. 

“Other liquor categories like ready-to-drink cocktails and tequila, which compete closely with vodka, have continued to see share gains,” says Paquette. “So, the potential for vodka growth may be a result of share shifting towards spirits from beer and wine, which is a trend we have continuously seen over the past couple of years.” 

Younger Drinkers May Reach for Red Wine

Red wines traditionally see share gains in the fall months as temperatures decrease across most of the country. During the fall months of 2021, red wine share grew by two percentage points to 39 percent of wine share, compared to 37 percent throughout the year. Despite share losses in the red wine subcategory in recent years, this fall trend is expected to pick up steam in 2022. 

This year, Gen Z, a group which has historically under-indexed on wine compared to other generations, might finally hop on the red wine purchasing trend. Thirty-eight percent of Gen Z respondents in Drizly’s 2022 Consumer Report indicated they plan to buy more red wine this year.

The most popular red wines among Gen Z consumers are primarily Cabernet Sauvignons from California including those from Josh Cellars, Caymus, Decoy, and 19 Crimes. Red blends from well-known, nationally distributed brands such as 19 Crimes and Apothic, plus Pinot Noirs from Meiomi and La Crema, were likewise popular among this generation. 

Light Lagers Are On the Rise

In 2021, beer saw a decline in share on Drizly in the fall months, dropping from an average of 16 percent of share to 14 percent. However, the light lager category was immune to this drop-off, and will likely expand during the fall of 2022. 

Amidst an overall decline in beer consumption in fall of 2021, the light lager subcategory grew from 16.4 percent to 17.7 percent of category share. So far in 2022, this subcategory has expanded, moving from 16.3 percent of category share to 18 percent. The continued, steady growth of this subcategory suggests consumers are leaning in to light lagers, and will likely continue reaching for this style of beer in the fall.