It may be just a hop and a skip from the Big Apple, but northern New Jersey consumers have their own unique tastes, which differ in many ways from consumer preferences throughout the rest of the state, in neighboring New York City, and across the rest of the country.

To help northern New Jersey retailers identify key trends and gain a competitive edge within their market, we compared Drizly’s northern New Jersey sales to national data and spoke with the head of two successful stores in the area to glean important retail insights. 

Wine Reigns in Northern New Jersey

While liquor is the top-selling alcohol category nationwide, northern New Jersey consumers are more likely to order a bottle of wine. Wine is the top-selling category on Drizly in northern New Jersey, comprising 42 percent share of sales in 2020, while liquor holds just 34 percent. This contrasts with category share nationwide, as liquor accounts for 41 percent share of overall U.S. sales on Drizly in 2020, compared to wine’s 38 percent.

Ranking high among the wines sold in northern New Jersey is Pinot Grigio, which is the third-best selling wine varietal in the area, after Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. It bests even Chardonnay, the third-most popular varietal nationally, accounting for 15.7 percent of wine sales share in northern New Jersey.

This is reflected in the region’s best-selling wine SKUs as well. Though Cavit Pinot Grigio clocks in at number three on northern New Jersey’s list of best-selling wines list it doesn’t even break into the top 10 nationally. As the sixth-best selling wine SKU in the region, Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio also ranks two slots higher in northern New Jersey than it does nationally. Della Jagad, the owner of Dittrick’s Wines & Liquors in Garwood, N.J. and Buddy’s Wine & Liquor in Hackensack, N.J., also lists Ruffino Lumina, Kris, Da Vinci, and The Pinot Project as top-selling Pinot Grigio SKUs at her stores. 

Top 10 Best-Selling Wines in Northern New Jersey vs. U.S. Overall, 2020 YTD

  1. Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon vs. Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label Champagne
  2. La Marca Prosecco vs. La Marca Prosecco
  3. Cavit Pinot Grigio vs. Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon
  4. Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label Champagne vs. Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc
  5. Whispering Angel Rosé vs. Whispering Angel Rosé 
  6. Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio DOC vs. Oyster Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 
  7. Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc vs. Meiomi Pinot Noir 
  8. Oyster Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc vs. Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio DOC
  9. Apothic Red vs. Kendall Jackson Chardonnay 
  10. Matua Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc vs. Apothic Red

Beer is Also a Favorite

Northern New Jersey also purchases more beer than the rest of the country. On Drizly, beer accounts for 23 percent of share in this area compared to 19 percent nationally.

“In terms of core beers, Corona Extra tops the list in New Jersey followed by Miller Lite, then Bud Light,” said Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights. “This is a significant shift from the national level where Bud Light is the number one core beer and Corona Extra is number five.” Additionally, Corona Light and Budweiser are among the top 10 beers in northern New Jersey, but they did not crack the top 10 nationally.

Within craft beer, the New England/Hazy IPA category has taken off in this region, growing by 127 percent year-over-year in August compared to 68 percent nationally. Local retailers look forward to seeing which beer styles will dominate the fall. “All of those juicy, hazy New England IPA styles did really well in summer,” said Jagad. “But, moving into fall where Oktoberfest and dark beers typically become more popular.”

Jagad also attributes the beer category’s popularity to the rise of alternative beer offerings like hard seltzer, “If you’re like me and you don’t like beer, you have tons of choices now in the beer section,” she said. 

In August, White Claw Black Cherry Hard Seltzer was the number two beer SKU on the rise in northern New Jersey, and consistent with national trends, three White Claw products made the top 10 list for the beer category: White Claw Variety Pack, White Claw Black Cherry, and White Claw Variety Pack Flavor Collection. 

RTD Cocktails are on Fire

On Drizly, the ready-to-drink (RTD) segment has grown 416 percent in share of sales year-over-year, and according to Nielsen, year-over-year off-premise dollar sales growth was 57 percent for the 52-week period ending August 8. Northern New Jersey has not been immune to the RTD boom, and in fact, the market is outpacing the rest of the country. In August, the RTD share in northern New Jersey grew at 312 percent year-on-year on Drizly compared to a 250 percent increase nationally. 

While High Noon is the best-selling RTD on Drizly, Jagad noted On the Rocks, Skinny Girl Margarita, and Flybird Margaritas as three of her most popular RTD brands that all New Jersey retailers should consider stocking. 

Tequila Rising

Like hard seltzer and RTD cocktails, tequila has also taken the national spotlight in 2020; the category saw the biggest year-over-year increase in sales on Drizly from January to June this year. In August, tequila accounted for two of the top five SKUs on the rise in northern New Jersey: Casamigos Blanco and Patrón Silver Tequila. Both products also made the top 10 best-sellers list for liquor in New Jersey, though Patrón did not crack the top 10 nationally. 

Top Liquor SKUs on the Rise in Northern New Jersey, August 2020

  1. GREY GOOSE® Vodka 
  2. Casamigos Blanco
  3. Patrón Silver Tequila
  4. Bulleit Bourbon
  5. Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey 

“People are buying a lot more tequila than what I’ve ever seen before,” said Jagad. “I haven’t seen people asking for Patrón in my 10 years of experience like they have the last two months.”

Jagad’s top tequila request is for Don Julio, which she said is a struggle to keep in stock, and Espolon, Casamigos, and 1800 Tequila are also best sellers. “Tequila has widened,” she said. “There are more smooth drinking tequilas coming out, more variety, and more choices.”