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US White Spirits market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the White Spirits market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

This report covers the US white spirits market. Dollar sales data in this report includes all distilled spirits segments (dark and white), while volume sales data solely covers white spirits. The white spirits volume sales data includes the following:

  • Vodka
  • Gin
  • Tequila
  • Rum

For the purposes of market sizing, white and dark rum are combined into one category. The consumer survey section of this report covers white rum. This report focuses on the AH (at home) consumption of white spirits, though the market size and forecast includes sales of white spirits on and off premise.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Caleb Bryant, a leading analyst in the Beverage sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The white spirits market is growing, albeit at a slower rate than dark spirits. Consumer interest in white spirits is growing as evident by the strong growth of tequila and higher-end/super premium gin brands. However, the trendiness of tequila and gin have not yet crossed into mass market appeal, and most white spirit drinkers tend to stick with the products and brands they know. Newer white spirit brands must focus on educating consumers on the differences between white spirit brands as well as the white spirit production process. Caleb Bryant
Senior Beverage Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • The high cost of spirits motivates consumers to stick to brands they know
            • Figure 1: White spirit important attributes, spirit purchasing behaviors among white spirit consumers, September 2018
          • Slow growth of white spirits market
            • Figure 2: Total US volume sales and forecast of white spirits, 2013-23
          • Tequila and gin have relatively low consumer engagement
            • Figure 3: Spirit engagement by type, September 2018
          • Consumers are drinking less
            • Figure 4: Total per capita US alcohol consumption, 2012-20
          • The opportunities
            • Cocktail culture greatly benefits white spirits
              • Figure 5: Reasons for drinking more spirits, by white spirit drinkers, September 2018
            • White spirit drinkers experiment on-premise
              • Figure 6: On-premise alcohol attitudes, by white spirit consumers, September 2018
            • Opportunity for health-focused brands
              • Figure 7: Spirit attitudes, by white spirit consumers, September 2018
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • White spirits sales grow slowly
                • Other drinks rise up with beer’s decline
                  • Cannabis is a big unknown for alcohol companies
                    • Spirit brands must adapt to iGen preferences
                    • Market Size and Forecast

                      • Continued growth of spirit sales
                        • Figure 8: Total US sales and fan chart forecast of distilled spirits, at current prices, 2013-23
                        • Figure 9: Total US sales and forecast of distilled spirits, at current prices, 2013-23
                    • Market Breakdown

                      • Incremental growth of white spirit market
                        • Figure 10: Total US volume sales and forecast of white spirits, 2013-23
                        • Figure 11: Total US volume sales and forecast of white spirits, by segment, 2013-23
                        • Figure 12: Total US volume sales and forecast of white spirits, by segment, 2013-23
                        • Figure 13: Total US volume sales of white spirits, by segment, 2016 and 2018
                    • Market Perspective

                      • Dark spirits elicit high consumer interest
                        • Premium mixers encourage AH spirit consumption
                          • Beer remains supreme but is starting to falter
                            • Producers raise a glass to wine’s growth
                              • Innovation keeps the FMB market fresh
                                • Figure 14: Total US volume sales and forecast of flavored malt beverages, 2013-23
                              • On-premise alcohol consumption falls
                                • Figure 15: Reasons for drinking AH instead of AFH, by generation, January 2018
                                • Figure 16: US volume sales of dark and white distilled spirits, by channel, 2013-17
                            • Market Perspective Deep Dive: Cannabis

                              • Cannabis: alcohol companies’ biggest threat or opportunity?
                                • Figure 17: Cannabis consumer behaviors, June 2018
                                • Figure 18: Attribute association, cannabis vs spirits, June 2018
                            • Market Factors

                              • Whiskey tariffs could damage white spirit sales
                                • Unsafe at any proof?
                                  • iGens will reshape the alcoholic beverage market
                                      • Figure 19: Distribution of population aged 21+, 2018-23
                                  • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                    • Bright future for gin and tequila
                                      • Vodka changes with the times
                                        • Online alcohol sales can only go up
                                        • What’s Working?

                                          • Gin is in
                                              • Figure 20: Change in incidence of spirits used in cocktails, Q2 2015-Q2 2018
                                            • Can tequila become the next bourbon?
                                                • Figure 21: Examples of mezcal used in cocktails
                                                • Figure 22: Examples of sotol used in cocktails
                                            • What’s Struggling?

                                              • Significant changes underway in the vodka market
                                                • Is the party over for flavored vodka brands?
                                                  • Has premium vodka hit its ceiling?
                                                    • The next natural step for vodka
                                                      • Unflavored white rum growth potential is currently limited
                                                        • Popularity of craft products is detrimental for value spirits
                                                          • Figure 23: Percent change in 9-liter cases sold, 2012-17
                                                        • A sobering future?
                                                          • Figure 24: Total per capita US alcohol consumption, 2012-20
                                                          • Figure 25: Social media mentions of “Dry January,” 2013-18
                                                      • What’s Next?

                                                        • Differentiate vodka with cause-based marketing
                                                          • Ecommerce remains a hurdle to overcome
                                                            • Figure 26: Spirit purchasing behaviors, “I have purchased spirits online,” among all spirit/cocktail drinkers, select white spirit consumer types, September 2018
                                                          • The world’s most consumed spirit lands on US shores
                                                            • Figure 27: Total US volume sales of all spirits vs total China volume sales of baijiu, 2017
                                                        • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                          • Barrier to spirit trial is lower when drinking AFH
                                                            • Grow consumer engagement with gin and tequila
                                                              • Opportunity for natural flavored white spirit brand with health claims
                                                              • White Spirit Consumer Segmentation

                                                                • Overview
                                                                  • Segment definitions
                                                                    • Vodka
                                                                      • Gin
                                                                        • Tequila buyers
                                                                          • Rum buyers
                                                                          • Alcoholic Beverages Consumed

                                                                            • White spirits lead dark in consumption
                                                                              • Figure 28: Alcoholic beverages consumed, most vs also drink, September 2018
                                                                            • White spirit drinker demographic profile
                                                                              • Figure 29: Alcoholic beverages consumed, any drink, drinker demographics indexed against all alcoholic beverage drinkers, September 2018
                                                                          • Alcoholic Beverage Consumption by Occasion

                                                                            • White and dark spirits compete for similar occasions
                                                                              • Figure 30: Alcohol consumption by occasion, correspondence analysis, September 2018
                                                                              • Figure 31: Alcohol consumption by occasion, correspondence analysis, September 2018
                                                                          • White Spirit Purchases

                                                                            • Unflavored vodka is the leader of the white spirits market
                                                                              • Figure 32: White spirit purchases, September 2018
                                                                              • Figure 33: Repertoire analysis, white spirit purchases, among those who have purchased in the past six months, September 2018
                                                                            • Younger consumers are core flavored white spirit drinkers
                                                                              • Figure 34: White spirit purchases, by age and gender, September 2018
                                                                            • Mezcal has a lot of room for growth
                                                                              • Figure 35: White spirit purchases, by race/ethnicity, September 2018
                                                                          • White Spirit Brand Purchases

                                                                            • Popular brands dominate the rum market
                                                                              • Figure 36: Spirit brand purchases, September 2018
                                                                          • White Spirit Engagement

                                                                            • Build the story behind tequila and gin
                                                                              • Figure 37: Spirit engagement by type, September 2018
                                                                            • Opportunity for gin brands to engage with younger consumers
                                                                              • Figure 38: Spirit engagement by type, by age, September 2018
                                                                          • White Spirit Important Attributes

                                                                            • Brand familiarity drives most purchases
                                                                              • Figure 39: White spirit important attributes, September 2018
                                                                            • Younger consumers are open to new brands
                                                                              • Figure 40: White spirit important attributes, by white spirit brand type consumer, September 2018
                                                                            • Promote the craft of gin production
                                                                              • Figure 41: White spirit important attributes, by white spirit consumer types, September 2018
                                                                            • Educate consumers on white spirit production
                                                                              • Figure 42: White spirit important attributes, by white spirit brand type consumer, September 2018
                                                                            • Attract younger trendy consumers with natural cues
                                                                                • Figure 43: White spirit important attributes, by food and drink shopper segmentation, September 2018
                                                                            • White Spirit Drinkers’ Purchasing Behaviors

                                                                              • Break white spirit drinkers out of their routine
                                                                                • Figure 44: Spirit purchasing behaviors, among white spirit consumers, September 2018
                                                                                • Figure 45: Spirit purchasing behaviors, by age, among white spirit drinkers, September 2018
                                                                                • Figure 46: Spirit purchasing behaviors, by white spirit consumer types, September 2018
                                                                              • Opportunity to build the white spirit gift-giving occasion
                                                                                • Figure 47: Spirit purchasing behaviors, by white spirit brand type consumers, September 2018
                                                                            • Spirit Attitudes

                                                                              • Despite brand loyalty, consumers love trying new spirits
                                                                                • Figure 48: Spirit attitudes, by white spirit consumers, September 2018
                                                                              • Healthful perception benefits white spirits
                                                                                • Figure 49: Spirit attitudes, by age, among white spirit drinkers, September 2018
                                                                              • Flavored products appeal to Hispanic consumers
                                                                                • Figure 50: Spirit attitudes, by Hispanic origin, among white spirit drinkers, September 2018
                                                                            • White Spirit Drinkers and Health

                                                                              • All natural is alright for white spirit drinkers
                                                                                • Figure 51: Alcohol health innovation interest, by white spirit consumers, September 2018
                                                                                • Figure 52: Alcohol health innovation interest, by select white spirit type consumers, September 2018
                                                                              • Increase consumption among women with more healthful products and mixers
                                                                                • Figure 53: Alcohol health innovation interest, by gender, among white spirit drinkers, September 2018
                                                                            • White Spirit Drinkers and Low-Alcohol Beverage Attitudes

                                                                              • Over half of white spirit consumers have tried a low-alcohol beverage
                                                                                • Figure 54: Interest in/experience with low alcohol products, among white spirit drinkers, September 2018
                                                                                • Figure 55: Low alcohol beverage attitudes, by white spirit drinkers, September 2018
                                                                            • White Spirit Drinkers’ On-premise Attitudes

                                                                              • On-premise drinking occasions represent an opportunity to educate consumers
                                                                                • Figure 56: On-premise alcohol attitudes, by white spirit consumers, September 2018
                                                                                • Figure 57: On-premise alcohol attitudes, by white spirit type consumers, September 2018
                                                                              • Curated tasting programs will benefit higher-end/super premium white spirit brands
                                                                                • Figure 58: On-premise alcohol attitudes, by white spirit brand type consumers, September 2018
                                                                            • Changes in Spirit Consumption

                                                                              • Spirit consumption is stable among white spirit drinkers
                                                                                • Figure 59: Changes in spirit consumption, by white spirit type drinkers, September 2018
                                                                                • Figure 60: Changes in spirit consumption, by age and by Hispanic origin, among white spirit consumers, September 2018
                                                                              • Cocktail culture is a boon for white spirits
                                                                                • Figure 61: Reasons for drinking more spirits, by white spirit drinkers, September 2018
                                                                              • White spirit drinkers aren’t switching to other alcohol types
                                                                                • Figure 62: Reasons for drinking more spirits, by white spirit drinkers, September 2018
                                                                            • Spirit Format Consumption by Occasion

                                                                              • Spirit with a single mixer is the most versatile format
                                                                                • Figure 63: Spirit format consumption by occasion, among consumers who drink spirits, by select format September 2018
                                                                                • Figure 64: Spirit format consumption by occasion, among consumers who drink spirits, by select format, September 2018
                                                                              • White spirit drinkers mix it up
                                                                                • Figure 65: Spirit format consumption by occasion, among consumers who drink spirits by select format, dark spirit consumer vs white spirit consumer comparison, September 2018
                                                                            • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                              • Data sources
                                                                                • Sales data
                                                                                  • Fan chart forecast
                                                                                    • Consumer survey data
                                                                                      • Mintel Menu Insights
                                                                                        • Purchase Intelligence
                                                                                          • Mintel Market Sizes
                                                                                            • Mintel Food and Drink Shopper Segmentation
                                                                                              • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                • Abbreviations
                                                                                                • Appendix – The Market

                                                                                                    • Figure 66: Total US volume sales of white spirits, by segment, 2016 and 2018
                                                                                                    • Figure 67: Total US sales and forecast of distilled spirits, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2013-23
                                                                                                    • Figure 68: US volume sales and forecast of white spirits, 2013-23
                                                                                                    • Figure 69: US volume sales of dark and white distilled spirits, by channel, 2013-17
                                                                                                    • Figure 70: US volume sales of dark and white distilled spirits, by channel, 2013-17