Understanding the Booming Emerging Spirits Trend and How You Can Profit from It

10/21/2019

 

One of today’s fastest-growing alcohol trends is a category that isn’t even old enough to drink.

The emerging spirits category began making noise in during the early 2000s, a time when there were less than 100 distilleries considered “emerging.” Some may call the category “craft,” but our experts like Jill Sites, Trident Division’s Director of Emerging Brands for our East Coast markets, tell a different story.

“The reason we use the term ‘emerging’ is to move away from ‘craft’ because ‘craft’ means different things to different people,” Sites said. “‘Emerging’ is anything that is coming out in a new form that wants to be thought of as not giant. ‘Emerging’ can mean a small operation with unique ingredients and methods that is trying to find its footing.”

Jennifer Paré, Sites’s West Coast counterpart, built on that definition.

“I would also say that emerging spirits are not only those that are just new to market, but those that have real potential to make an impact on trends, culture, social and community awareness and engagement,” Paré said. “It’s not about just the next vodka or bourbon, but what that brand is doing, especially in the community at the local level, to set them apart. That’s big with consumers.”

Clearly, the category is going to make even more noise for many years to come. Paré and Sites have detailed out the emerging category will continue to grow in the coming years, and how you can use this emerging trend to build your business.

 

How has the category evolved during recent years?

Jill Sites: The category is sticking, no doubt. It’s very competitive, though. The cream is rising to the top, so you can’t necessarily just get by on making a white whiskey while waiting for the “real” whiskey to lay down. The category is evolving to such a high quality because millennials, in particular, are demanding it to be that way. Many of them want high-end spirits to not only enjoy by itself, but for making great cocktails. Also, regional and local drink menus are so important today because the demand for local is exploding. People crave local because the brands come with a great story and people can connect with the players.

 

What are some tips for selling emerging spirits brands?

Jennifer Paré The main key to success certainly starts with education. Confidence in selling comes from education, and emerging spirits require more research and time to really understand the nuances and how a brand might fit into a specific bar program.

 

Off-premise tips?

JS: If you’re a non-established brand and you’re just trying to find space on the shelf, it’s hard. The best thing is to do is get tastings going. You need to get people to try it. The way to sell emerging spirits is to taste. Also, it’s all about the story. If the brand has a really great story, you need to communicate that to the customers through shelf-talkers or having the customer be knowledgeable on the story so they can relay it to the consumer.

 

On-premise tips?

JS: You’ve simply got to get emerging brands onto the cocktail menu. That’s how you’re going to build that brand to the point where volume will come. It’s all about the awareness.

JP: I try to really understand a specific beverage program and how a brand will fill a need or gap. It all goes back to education and discussing trends with buyers so we can be viewed as a trusted consultant to their business.

 

Predictions for the emerging spirits category in the coming years?

JP: I by no means have a crystal ball, but I know you’ll continue to see new experimentations of raw materials, aging methods, flavor components and cultural influence. We have suppliers currently that are finding gems from all over the world, which helps expand our reach to many consumers who are looking for something that speaks to them and their palate.

JS: I think we will see more openings, and many more buy outs, which will be similar to the craft beer market. Whiskeys definitely aren’t going anywhere. I really think brandy will start to grow. In terms of cocktails, I think we’ll continue to see a lot more low-proof cocktails, so hopefully more vermouth trends are on the horizon.

For more information on our award-winning emerging spirits portfolio, please visit our Trident Almanac at https://www.breakthrubev.com/Trident-Almanac/.

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