Even amidst a pandemic, occasions like Cinco de Mayo, the Fourth of July, and Thanksgiving have proven to be opportunities for celebration amongst consumers. But as with previous occasions, the last major occasion of 2020 resulted in slightly different kinds of celebrations, accompanied by changed alcohol purchasing behaviors. Which brands and categories won New Year’s Eve — and what do they indicate about 2021 occasions to come?

Interestingly enough, New Year’s Eve brought hints of normalcy: It was the best-selling day on Drizly in 2020, surpassing even peak pandemic stock-up days, just as the holiday has been in years past. However as happened during many occasions in 2020, Drizly’s New Year’s Eve sales saw soaring year-over-year growth. New Year’s Eve 2020 sales were up 400 percent on Drizly compared to New Year’s Eve 2019, which is well above the platform’s 350 percent year-over-year growth overall in 2020.

The overwhelming demand for alcohol delivery was likely boosted by new consumers who have discovered the convenience of ordering alcohol online this year, as well as Covid-related restrictions shuttering restaurants and bars and limiting large private gatherings. In a Drizly pre-New Year’s Eve consumer survey, 70.8 percent reported they planned to spend the holiday at home, which was up from 61.2 percent the year prior.

Across categories and brands, some New Year’s Eve winners, like Champagne and sparkling wine, were expected, while others indicate that certain 2020 trends will continue to drive sales into the new year.

Champagne Growth Within Sparkling Wine

Wine came out on top on New Year’s Eve, comprising 48 percent share of the day’s sales, which was an increase from the category’s 41 percent share of overall December sales. Much of this share gain can be attributed to the Champagne and sparkling wine subcategory, which was the top-selling wine subcategory on New Year’s Eve, comprising 65 percent share of wine sales — up from 60 percent of share year-over-year, and more than double the subcategory’s share of wine sales in December overall.

“In our 2020 retail report, retailers surveyed reported sparkling wine to be among the top wine categories they plan to stock more of in 2021,” says Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights. The top four best-selling brands on New Year’s Eve were all sparkling wines, with Tito’s falling from the No. 2 spot on New Year’s Eve 2019 to the No. 5 spot on New Year’s Eve 2020.

Drizly’s Best-Selling Brands on New Year’s Eve 2020

  1. Veuve Clicquot
  2. Moet & Chandon
  3. La Marca 
  4. Dom Perignon
  5. Tito’s
  6. Korbel
  7. Casamigos 
  8. White Claw
  9. Hennessy
  10. Don Julio

This category trend isn’t revolutionary for the holiday; Champagne and sparkling wine sales are typically strong on New Year’s Eve amidst the tradition of popping bottles and toasting to a new year at midnight. However, new trends did emerge within the Champagne and sparkling wine subcategory. Champagne experienced the highest year-over-year growth within the subcategory, increasing from 60 percent of share on New Year’s Eve 2019 to 68 percent of share on New Year’s Eve 2020.

“New Year’s Eve is typically a holiday where consumers splurge on alcohol purchases to celebrate,” says Paquette, “and this was even more so the case in 2020, made evident with trading up behavior in the sparkling wine category.” At the same time, segments like Prosecco, Cava, and American sparkling wine all experienced diminished year-over-year share, with Prosecco’s share specifically dropping by a third.

Though consumers do tend to trade up more on New Year’s Eve — especially this one, considering the eagerness to say goodbye to 2020 — retailers should expect that consumers will continue to trade up on sparkling wine purchases by reaching for Champagne. “Given the year-over-year growth in Champagne this New Year’s Eve, we expect this subcategory within the sparkling wine category to remain strong, as consumers continue to celebrate milestones and occasions at home in 2021,” says Paquette.

Expect 2020 Trends to Spill into 2021

Alongside classic New Year’s Eve favorites, some 2020 trends were reflected in New Year’s Eve sales as well, particularly within the liquor category. Though liquor share on New Year’s Eve declined compared to December overall (38 percent versus 44 percent, respectively), many consumers turned to cocktails to ring in the new year.

“With on-premise venues closed for the holiday, consumers recreated the experience at home by shaking up their favorite cocktails,” says Paquette. In Drizly’s pre-New Year’s Eve consumer survey, the majority of consumers (43.7 percent) indicated they were most likely to reach for cocktails to ring in the new year, surpassing those who were most likely to reach for Champagne and sparkling wine by more than four percentage points.

This was reflected in subcategories like liqueurs, cordials, and schnapps, which held nine percent of liquor share on New Year’s Eve 2020 — a 50 percent share growth from New Year’s Eve 2019. Other major liquor subcategories on New Year’s Eve were whiskey at 36 percent of liquor share, vodka at 18 percent of liquor share, and tequila at 18 percent of liquor share.

As one of the big winners of 2020 overall, tequila’s year-over-year share remained steady at 18 percent of New Year’s Eve liquor sales. However, this further cements tequila’s status as a go-to spirit; on New Year’s Eve, it held the same liquor share as the vodka subcategory. 

“Tequila’s continued growth among liquor sales points to tequila’s solidified position as a staple for consumers, even on occasions that typically are not associated with the beverage,” says Paquette. Casamigos, the only tequila brand to rank among Drizly’s top 10 best sellers on New Year’s Eve 2020, rose from the No. 10 best-selling brand on New Year’s Eve 2019 to the No. 7 spot on this year’s holiday.

Among the subcategories growing the fastest year-over-year on New Year’s Eve 2020 were orange wine, stout, and ready-to-drink cocktails. “All of which are consistent with the top-growing categories over the quarter and for 2020 overall,” says Paquette.