Smaller brands and categories are outpacing and in some cases taking share from the more well-established in the alcohol industry, according to Technomic's analysis of 2014 year-end results.
"Many of the categories and brands that dominate the industry are being challenged," observes Technomic Senior Director Donna Hood Crecca. "The trend creates increased competition for shelf space in bars and at retail and for consumer dollars in 2015. The monster categories such as light beer and vodka are feeling the heat from the likes of craft beer and bourbon, and the legacy brands are increasingly pitted against upstarts in the battle for operator attention and consumer occasions."
"Beer shed volume again in 2014 and the dynamics within beer continue to evolve, while the growth in spirits and wine is ongoing," adds Technomic Director of Research Eric Schmidt. "Changing flavour preferences and greater interest in production methods and new formulations are driving factors. We're tracking a sharp decline in sweet flavour profiles and a rise in liquids with real 'heat' or herbal nuance in the spirits industry, and momentum among beer, spirits and even wine products with unique production processes."
Additional revelations about the growth of small categories and brands include:
- The largest categories in beer – light and regular – both shed volume, while two of the smaller categories – craft beer and hard cider – each posted double-digit increases.
- Vodka continues to hold one-third of total spirits volume. Its momentum improved in 2014, but its pace was eclipsed by several smaller categories, including Irish whiskey, cordials/liqueurs and straight American whiskey.
- Table wine dominates the wine market, and its 2014 trend improved over 2013, but it was again markedly outpaced by the considerably smaller sparkling wine category.
- Accelerated growth rates are the trend for many smaller brands, while numerous labels whose performances often influence total category trends, lost volume. In whiskey and vodka, for example, the real momentum is occurring beyond the leading brands.