This report provides comprehensive and current information and analysis of the RTD alcoholic beverages market including RTD alcoholic beverages market size, anticipated market forecast, relevant market segmentation, and industry trends for the RTD alcoholic beverages market in the US.

Current market landscape

Six in 10 US adults purchase ready to drink alcoholic beverages, up from just under half last year. While the primary audience for RTDs are adults age 22-34, the category has mainstream and widespread appeal. All adults under-55 overindex in purchases, and offerings have especially strong appeal with audiences such as parents and multi-cultural consumers.

Sales success has allowed the RTD category to maintain a very active innovation pipeline over the last few years. However, for most measured beverage types, the portion of those that report being either loyal purchasers or interested purchasers is outpaced by those who show total disinterest in purchasing. Awareness, but disinterest in trial, suggests a level of product distrust or choice fatigue. This serves as a warning sign, signaling the importance of quality over quantity and avoiding innovation for innovation sakes.

Market share and key industry trends

  • Nearly six in 10 adults purchased an RTD in the past three months, up from 49% last year. The increases were driven by new product launches, primarily in the canned cocktail space.
  • While alcohol consumers 22-34 are the most engaged with RTDs, they appeal to all consumers under-55.
  • Parents and multi-cultural consumers represent two target groups with outsized interest and opportunity.
  • Many leading purchases factors, including flavor, alcohol strength and base type rose in influence from 2021-22.
  • Less than three in 10 buy RTDs as an impulse purchase, indicating decisions are informed and planned.

Future market trends in RTD alcoholic beverages

RTD variety, in both buyers and product offerings, will help the category to be more resilient amidst high inflation. The category and segments within it manage to reach all measured financial situations, from those who self-report as financially healthy to those that are struggling or in trouble. However, less established preferences and less mature shopping habits can work against the category as some consumers’ stretch their budgets through sacrifices and trade-offs.

The newest segment in the market, canned cocktails, has an especially strong opportunity for success in current socioeconomic conditions. As consumers’ pull back on bar and restaurant alcohol spending, and as home bartending budgets shrink, these offerings can fill the void and make the cocktail experience accessible. To be an accepted replacement, RTD brands should look to menu data, and opt for cocktail types that are familiar over those that are trendy.

Read on to discover more about the RTD alcoholic beverages consumer market, read our Foodservice Alcohol Trends – US – 2022, or take a look at our other Drinks research reports.

Quickly understand RTD alcoholic beverages

  • RTD products purchased.
  • Experience with recently launched RTD alcoholic beverages.
  • Interest in canned cocktails.
  • RTD purchase factors.
  • RTD shopping attitudes.
  • RTD brand associations.

Covered in this RTD alcoholic beverages market report

Brands include: Truly, Corona, Bud Light, Vizzy, High Noon, Twisted Tea, Mike’s, Seagram’s, Rita’s, Four Loko, Corona, Michelob, Jack Daniel’s, Smirnoff, Cutwater, Jose Cuervo, Monaco, 1800, Crown Royal, Buzzballz Chillers, Bacardi, Chi-Chi’s, On the Rocks, Ketel One, Absolut, Cazadores, Glorida Seltzer, Three Birds, Lavery Brewing, Tio Rodrigo, Two Chicks, Martin House, Boulevard Beverage Co, Odd Side Ales.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

This report, written by Sydney Olson, a leading analyst in the Food and Drink sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis on RTD alcoholic beverages market research to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Launch activity and popularity of canned cocktails are building upon the success and excitement already present in the RTD alcoholic beverages space. The category continues to deliver on the convenient, flavorful and fun beverages consumers crave. However, fading novelty and inflationary pressures is intensifying competition, calling for brands to build and communicate clear and compelling value and differentiation.
Sydney Olson, Food and Drink Analyst
Sydney Olson
Senior Food and Drink Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas
    • Definition
    • Market context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: RTD alcoholic beverages category outlook, 2022-27
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Trial fatigue is setting in
      • Figure 2: Experience with RTD innovation, 2022
    • Build upon diversity strategies
      • Figure 3: Types of RTDs purchased, by race/Hispanic origin, 2022
    • Differentiation is needed to maintain interest
      • Figure 4: RTD brand associations, 2022
    • Men guided by marketing
      • Figure 5: Purchase factors, by gender, 2022
    • Lean into the unique needs of parents
      • Figure 6: RTD types purchased, by parental status, 2022
  3. Market Size and Forecast

    • FMBs sustain strong volume growth
      • Figure 7: Total US volume sales and forecast of flavored malt beverages, at current prices, 2017-24
    • Spirit-based cocktails following in seltzers footsteps
      • Figure 8: Total US volume sales and forecast of spirits-based prepared cocktails, 2017-24
    • Ongoing stagnancy for wine coolers
      • Figure 9: Total US volume sales and forecast of wine coolers, 2017-24
  4. Market Factors

    • Addressing inflation
      • Figure 10: Impact of financial challenges on alcohol, 2022
    • Be strategic about cocktail types
    • Balance tension between moderation and socialization
      • Figure 11: Alcohol attitudes – select attitudes, 2022
      • Figure 12: Consumption frequency, 2021-22
    • Social struggles continue
      • Figure 13: Attitudes toward socializing, 2021
    • Celebrating diversity and inclusion
  5. Market Share/Key Players

    • Truly closing the gap on market leader via innovation
      • Figure 14: Truly launches, 2020-21
      • Figure 15: Truly, White Claw perceptions, 2020-21
    • Winning takes more than a familiar name
      • Figure 16: Volume sales of leading brands of flavored malt beverages, 2019-21
    • Category entrants shake up canned cocktail leader board
    • Success rewarded to specialty and variety
      • Figure 17: Volume sales of leading brands of spirits-based cocktails, 2019-21
  6. Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

    • Consumers’ talents take center stage
      • Figure 18: Leisure attitudes, 2022
      • Figure 19: Florida seltzer, Untitled Art Collaboration, 2022
      • Figure 20: White Claw Instagram campaigns, 2022
    • Unexpected mashups and flavors
      • Figure 21: RTD launces – product and flavor blurring, 2022
    • Occasion themed variety packs
      • Figure 22: Occasion-based RTD launches, 2022
    • Extending the season
      • Figure 23: Holiday RTD launches, 2022
      • Figure 24: Twisted Tea Instagram posts, 2022
    • Internationally inspired cocktails
      • Figure 25: Mexican-inspired RTDs, 2022
    • Make RTDs an unguilty pleasure
      • Figure 26: RTD launches – Nostalgic flavors, 2022
  7. The RTD Alcoholic Beverage Consumer – Fast Facts

    • RTDs reach the majority
    • Trial fatigue is setting in
    • Buyers are becoming more informed and selective
    • RTDs are still developing their identities
    • Brands struggle to differentiate
  8. RTD Products Purchased

    • RTDs achieve mainstream presence
      • Figure 27: RTD types purchased and repertoire analysis 2022
    • Interest is not limited to young consumers
      • Figure 28: RTD types purchased, by age, 2022
    • RTDs are reaching the needs of parents
      • Figure 29: Types of RTDs purchased, by parental status, 2022
    • Reinforce affinity with multicultural audiences
      • Figure 30: Types of RTDs purchased, by race/Hispanic origin, 2022
  9. Experience with RTD Innovation

    • Innovation is spread thin
      • Figure 31: Experience with innovative RTDs, 2022
      • Figure 32: Experience with innovative RTDs – have purchased, would purchase again, 2022
    • Younger consumers show more loyalty
      • Figure 33: Experience with innovative RTDs – have purchased, would purchase again, by age, 2022
    • Non-purchasers need incentive
      • Figure 34: Experience with innovative RTDs – have not purchased, 2022
    • 55+ is not unreachable
      • Figure 35: Experience with innovative RTDs – have not purchased, but interested in purchasing, by age, 2022
  10. RTD Purchase Factors

    • RTD buyers are using greater purchase discretion
      • Figure 36: Purchase factors, 2022
      • Figure 37: Purchase factors, 2022
    • Men more influenced by marketing
      • Figure 38: Purchase factors, by gender, 2022
    • Comparing RTD types may be apples to oranges
      • Figure 39: Purchase factors, by RTD type purchased, 2022
  11. Canned Cocktails of Interest

    • Not about what’s trendy, but what’s trusted
      • Figure 40: Purchase driving canned cocktails, 2022
    • Simple cocktails, variety style
      • Figure 41: Purchase driving canned cocktails – TURF analysis, 2022
    • RTDs support cocktail accessibility
      • Figure 42: Purchase driving canned cocktails, by financial status, 2022
    • Matching the authentic experience is most important
      • Figure 43: Purchase driving canned cocktails, by purchase factors, 2022
  12. RTD Shopping Attitudes

    • RTDs still establishing their place in the alcohol landscape
      • Figure 44: RTD shopping attitudes, 2022
    • Men are more heavily influenced by brand identity
      • Figure 45: RTD shopping attitudes, by gender, 2022
    • Real liquor is not a value proposition, yet
      • Figure 46: RTD shopping attitudes, by financial status, 2022
  13. Attributes Associated with Brands

    • Brands lack strong differentiation
      • Figure 47: RTD brand associations, 2022
    • Real liquor is struggling to prove value
      • Figure 48: RTD brand associations – Select attributes, 2022
    • Women are losing trust, driven by health skepticism
      • Figure 49: RTD brand associations – trustworthy brand, 2022
      • Figure 50: RTD brand associations – Trustworthy brand, 2022
  14. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Sales data
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Mintel defines generations as:
  15. Appendix – The Market

      • Figure 51: Total US volume sales and forecast of flavored malt beverages, at current prices, 2017-24
      • Figure 52: Total US volume sales and forecast of spirits-based prepared cocktails, 2017-24
      • Figure 53: Total US volume sales and forecast of wine coolers, 2017-24
  16. Appendix – Market Share/Key Players

      • Figure 54: Volume sales of leading brands of flavored malt beverages, 2019-21
      • Figure 55: Volume sales of leading brands of spirits-based cocktails, 2019-21

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