Cinco de Mayo is, predictably, a sales driver for agave-based spirits and Mexican lagers. But with the massive growth and expansion of the tequila and mezcal categories in 2020, along with the rise of ready-to-drink (RTD) margaritas and agave-based hard seltzer, Cinco de Mayo’s top-performing subcategories and SKUs may look a bit different this year. One thing is certain, however: After more than a year of lockdowns, consumers will be eager to celebrate. 

“With vaccinations becoming more widespread and regions rolling back lockdown restrictions, more consumers may celebrate Cinco de Mayo at on-premise locations than last year,” notes Liz Paquette, the head of consumer insights for Drizly. “However, there will also likely be more at-home or outdoor gatherings, which will drive demand for delivery and online ordering.”

Lander Otegui, the senior vice president of marketing at Proximo Spirits, the parent company of Jose Cuervo, also predicts that more people will host Cinco de Mayo gatherings at home this year—and that consumers will look beyond Mexican beer to quench their thirst. “As we saw in 2020,” he says, “we’re anticipating that ready-to-drink offerings and prepared cocktails will be particularly popular once again for this year’s holiday.” 

To help prepare for Cinco de Mayo 2021, BevAlc Insights examined last year’s sales trends for the holiday on Drizly including top-performing categories, brands, and SKUs.

Cinco de Mayo Staples

Liquor was Drizly’s top-selling category for Cinco de Mayo 2020 at 52 percent share (up from 40 percent in Q2 2020 overall), followed by wine at 29 percent (down from 38 percent), and beer at 16 percent (down from 19 percent). The share for extras such as mixers and limes increased from two percent in Q2 to four percent on Cinco de Mayo.

Tequila ruled the liquor category on May 5 last year, showing massive gains and accounting for a 39 percent share of all liquor sales compared to 16 percent share in Q2 overall. “As a staple for the holiday, tequila will without a doubt be a key sales driver for retailers on Cinco de Mayo 2021—potentially even more so than in years prior,” says Paquette. “As the category continues to grow in popularity, tequila is becoming a year-round staple.” 

Among tequila subcategories, silver/Blanco led Drizly’s Cinco de Mayo sales, increasing in share of tequila sales from 61 percent in Q2 overall to 67 percent. Reposado was the second-best selling subcategory at 18 percent share (down from 21 percent in Q2), followed by añejo at 10 percent share (down from 12 percent in Q2), and gold at 3 percent (holding steady from Q2). Flavored tequila also held its ground from Q2 at one percent sales share.

Drizly’s Best-Selling Tequila SKUs, Cinco de Mayo 2020

  1. Espolòn Blanco
  2. Casamigos Blanco
  3. Patrón Silver 
  4. Jose Cuervo Especial Silver
  5. Don Julio Blanco

Mexican beer is another holiday favorite. Lagers commanded a 42 percent share of Drizly’s beer sales on Cinco de Mayo 2020 compared to 36 percent in Q2 overall. It also overtook ale as the top-selling beer category. Corona Extra Mexican Lager Beer was the best-selling beer SKU on Cinco de Mayo last year, followed by popular Mexican beers such as Modelo Especial (No. 3), Corona Light (No. 4), Pacifico Clara (No. 7), and Dos Equis Lager (No. 13). The fastest-growing Mexican beer brands on Drizly currently include Bohemia, Sol, and Estrella Jalisco.  

Mezcal and Mixers on the Move

Though it commands a much smaller share than tequila, mezcal is quickly gaining ground. “With the spirit’s Mexican origin and the surge in at-home cocktail making,” says Paquette, “retailers should expect mezcal to be a key liquor category to stock for Cinco de Mayo.” 

Last year, mezcal sales increased from one percent share in Q2 to two percent on May 5. But the category also grew 600 percent year over year in 2020, landing it a spot among Drizly’s fastest-growing liquor subcategories and priming it for even stronger sales this year.

Drizly’s Best-Selling Mezcal SKUs, Cinco de Mayo 2020

  1. Del Maguey Vida 
  2. Ilegal Mezcal 
  3. El Silencio Espadin
  4. Casamigos Joven 
  5. Banhez Mezcal 
  6. Dos Hombres Joven 
  7. Union Uno 
  8. Montelobos Joven 
  9. Madre Mezcal 
  10. El Buho Mezcal 

Along with agave-based spirits, consumers stocked up on liqueurs and other ingredients for mixing Cinco de Mayo’s staple cocktail: the margarita. The liqueurs, cordials, and schnapps category accounted for a 10 percent share of sales on Cinco de Mayo compared to 8 percent in Q2 overall. Orange-flavored liqueurs were the holiday’s best sellers, with Cointreau, Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge, and Dekuyper Triple Sec as the top-ranking SKUs.

Extras accounted for a 4 percent share of Drizly’s overall sales on Cinco de Mayo compared to 2 percent average in Q2. The top-ranking extras on May 5 last year were limes, ice, and lime juice—all key elements for making margaritas. 

Among cocktail mixers, margarita mix led the pack on Cinco de Mayo. Drizly’s top-ranking margarita mix SKUs included: Jose Cuervo Classic Lime Original, Tres Agaves, Jose Cuervo Classic Lime Light Margarita Mix, Master of Mixes, and Zing Zang All Natural. 

RTDs Gaining Ground 

On Cinco de Mayo 2020, RTDs accounted for a four percent share of Drizly’s liquor category sales compared to three percent in Q2 overall. “Retailers can expect single-serve RTDs to play bigger roles in category sales this year, as product innovation and consumer interest in the category surges,” Paquette says.

Margarita RTD flavors—including products from popular tequila brands Jose Cuervo and 1800—featured prominently in Drizly’s list of top-ranking SKUs on May 5, 2020, claiming 8 of the top 10 spots. Hard seltzer hybrid High Noon also staked an impressive claim with its watermelon and pineapple seltzers.

Top 10 RTD SKUs on Cinco de Mayo 2020

  1. Skinnygirl Margarita
  2. Jose Cuervo Authentic Lime Margarita
  3. Jose Cuervo Golden Margarita
  4. 1800 Ultimate Margarita
  5. Jose Cuervo Authentic Strawberry Margarita 
  6. Jose Cuervo Authentic Classic Lime Light Margarita
  7. High Noon Watermelon Hard Seltzer 
  8. Cutwater Tequila Margarita
  9. High Noon Pineapple Hard Seltzer 
  10. Cayman Jack Margarita 

“We saw notable growth for our ready-to-drink portfolio in 2020, with Jose Cuervo Authentic Margaritas jumping 51 percent and Jose Cuervo Golden Margaritas up 36 percent,” notes Otegui of Proximo Spirits. “We expect to see that trend continue.”

In time for Cinco de Mayo 2021, the company is launching two products that tap into consumers’ increasing interest in lighter RTD options: Jose Cuervo Playamar tequila-based hard seltzer and Jose Cuervo Strawberry Light Margarita.

While established brands held most of the top 10 spots last year, lesser-known names are on the rise. Drizly’s fastest-growing margarita RTDs year-over-year in 2020 included up-and-comers Joia Spirit Sparkling Margarita, Two Chicks Sparkling Citrus Margarita, Five Drinks Co. Margarita, and Fling Craft Cocktails Margarita.