As summer gets underway, consumers tend to reach for light, refreshing beverages, but the return of travel and increasing competition between popular categories are also poised to impact Q3 sales trends.

White wine and light lager, two categories that traditionally see share gains during the summer months, are both experiencing above average growth this year. Notably, the expansion of the light lager subcategory somes while hard seltzer share – a booming segment over the past few summers – remains flat. 

Across categories, consumers are embracing tropical flavors as brands release a slew of products and variety packs designed to evoke vacation vibes on-the-go. The best-selling tropical-flavored SKUS on Drizly in 2022 to date are spread across popular categories, with nearly equal representation for single-serve hard seltzers, spirits-based ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails, and beers. 

Read on to learn how brands and retailers can take advantage of current consumption trends.

Vacation Destinations Drive Local Sales

With travel less restricted this year, summer vacations have returned this season and travelers are enthusiastically reaching for local drinks in the destinations they are visiting. 

In Drizly’s 2022 Consumer Report, over 30 percent of respondents said they prefer to experience local products while traveling, creating a unique opportunity for producers based in vacation destinations such as beachfront towns and nature-filled getaways. Retailers who invest in educating consumers and highlighting local products could stand to gain sales.

“Distribution is key for local brands to be ordered online,” says Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights, noting it is key for local products to be available online. “The availability of delivery for these products is a key use case for summer vacationers, according to our consumer report.” 

Retailers can likewise take advantage of this trend in-store by featuring local producers and highlighting local products with shelf talkers and displays. 

Tropical Flavors Are Trending

Tropical flavors are on the rise across categories, as indicated by a slew of new SKUs and variety packs from major brands and upstarts. Established products like the Truly Hard Seltzer and High Noon tropical variety packs remain popular, while newer products such as Corona’s Hard Seltzer Tropical Mix Pack and Goose Island’s Tropical Beer Hug are likewise gaining traction.

“The trend we’re seeing is the transition from using the word ‘tiki’ to using the term ‘tropical,’’’ explains Anne Marie Louise, the portfolio brand ambassador for Campari. “We’re seeing that there’s a lot more awareness, respect, and allyship toward the AAPI community.”

Retailers can remain ahead of the curve by stocking up on popular tropical products and avoiding items that appropriate Polynesian culture such as drinks labeled as ‘tiki,’ and packaging that features Polynesian figures such as the Easter Island moai.

“We want to create inclusive spaces where everyone feels welcomed and no one feels othered. And so, when we’re talking about rum or ‘vacation’ drinks, we try to be mindful that the places we go on vacation are places other people live all the time,” adds Marquis. “So, the way we communicate about those places needs to include that consideration and respect.”

Drizly’s Best-Selling Tropical-Flavored SKUs, 2022 to Date

  1. TRULY Hard Seltzer Tropical Variety Pack
  2. High Noon Tropical Variety Pack
  3. Corona Hard Seltzer Tropical Mix Variety Pack Spiked Sparkling Water
  4. Creature Comforts Tropicalia IPA
  5. Corona Refresca Variety Pack Spiked Tropical Cocktail
  6. Stella Rosa Tropical Mango
  7. Goose Island Tropical Beer Hug
  8. Bud Light Hard Seltzer Tropical Cocktail Hour Limited Edition Variety Pack
  9. Red Bull Tropical Fruit The Yellow Edition
  10. Summer Bliss Tropical Wheat 

RTD Cocktails Zero In on Hard Seltzer

RTD cocktails have continued to gain share in 2022, with share expanding 0.6 percentage points year to date over the same time period in 2021. Simultaneously, hard seltzers have dropped to 2.9 percent share year-to-date from 3.3 percent over the same time period last year. 

The summer season is traditionally the peak sales time for RTDs, as consumers reach for convenient single-serve beverages at gatherings and outdoor events. This season, RTDs may overtake hard seltzers in popularity for the first time. 

“The RTD category continues to grow and gain awareness among consumers,” says Paquette. “Consumers are becoming more educated on what is in the drinks they are choosing – like vodka-based cocktails versus malt-based seltzers – as well as seeking new flavor innovation.“

Light Lagers Make a Comeback

After several seasons where traditional beers saw decreases in consumption as consumers experimented with RTD cocktails and hard seltzers, the light lager category is seeing a comeback on Drizly. 

In 2022 to date, light lager accounts for 14 percent share of the beer category – a two percentage point increase over the same period in 2021. Hard seltzer, a key competitor to the light lager subcategory, has remained flat at 20 percent of share during the same time period.

“Light lager typically does see slight seasonal gains during the summer months,” explains Paquette. “However the category is over-indexing year-over-year, suggesting that gains this summer could potentially be more significant than years prior.”

White Wine Gains Share

Summer weather routinely generates increased consumer interest in white wines as drinkers reach for cool, refreshing beverage options during warmer months. This year, however, white wine is likely to see more substantial gains. 

In 2022 to date, white wine holds 29 percent of share within the wine category – up one percentage point over the same time period in 2021. The majority of Drizly’s fastest-growing white wine SKUs are lighter options, with Sauvignon Blanc accounting for five of the top 10 and Pinot Grigio accounting for three.