Description

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

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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

The white spirits market is defined by the long-lasting popularity of vodka, tequila’s ascent and the exciting innovation coming from gin brands. White spirit brands will face challenges, as the pandemic wiped away on-premise revenues and financially stressed consumers retreated to brands they know and trust. However, financially secure consumers will treat themselves to new spirits and create cocktails at home, presenting new opportunities for white spirit brands. Brands have the opportunity to create products that appeal to the new consumer drinking behaviors established during the pandemic.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

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

Spirit brands are reeling from the loss of on-premise sales, and consumers facing economic hardships prioritize known, familiar brands over experimentation. Opportunities within the market exist despite these challenges. Tequila and gin continue to thrive due to the popularity of premium varieties, and tequila and gin brands are embracing innovation. While financially struggling consumers are gravitating toward familiar spirits, brands can create new products/services for those consumers who are looking to upgrade their home bars.
Caleb Bryant
Associate Director of Food and Drink

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Definition
    • COVID-19: Market context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Total US sales and forecast of distilled spirits, at current prices, 2015-25
      • Figure 2: Total US sales and forecast of distilled spirits, at current prices, 2015-25
    • Impact of COVID-19 on spirits
      • Figure 3: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on spirits, November 2020
    • Opportunities and Challenges
    • Consumers focus on the familiar when facing uncertainty
      • Figure 4: Alcohol purchasing behaviors during financial uncertainty among white spirit drinkers, September 2020
    • Spirit brands feel the loss of on-premise revenues
      • Figure 5: Spirit trial method, among white spirit drinkers, September 2020
    • Brand heritage is important but not the only quality indicator
      • Figure 6: Premium spirit indicators, by spirit consumer segmentation, September 2020
    • Recovery
    • (2022-25)
      • Figure 7: Important spirit attributes, by age and HHI, September 2020
      • Figure 8: Spirit product interest, by gender and age, September 2020
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • Thriving market falls
    • Macro-economic conditions are detrimental to the spirits market
    • Better spirit choices
    • Consumer social behaviors have changed
  4. Market Size and Forecast

    • Thriving market cut down by decline of on-premise sales
      • Figure 9: Total US sales and forecast of distilled spirits, at current prices, 2015-2025
      • Figure 10: Total US sales and forecast of distilled spirits, at current prices, 2015-25
      • Figure 11: US unemployment rate, January 2007-November 2020
      • Figure 12: Consumer sentiment index, January 2007-October 2020
      • Figure 13: Consumer expenditure on alcohol for off- and on-premise consumption, 2005-2012
    • Impact of COVID-19 on spirits
      • Figure 14: Short-, medium and long term impact of COVID-19 on spirits, November 2020
    • Lockdown
    • Re-emergence
    • Recovery
    • COVID-19: US context
  5. Segment Performance

    • Tequila steals the show, but vodka remains the cornerstone of the spirits market
      • Figure 15: US volume sales of white spirits, by type, 2015-23
      • Figure 16: US volume sales of white spirits, by type, 2015-23
      • Figure 17: US white spirit market share, by type, 2015-2019
  6. Market Factors

    • Economic uncertainty muddles the market
      • Figure 18: US unemployment rate, January 2007-November 2020
      • Figure 19: Consumer sentiment index, January 2007-October 2020
    • Researchers urge revisions to alcohol guidelines
    • Spirit brands lose crucial foodservice business
      • Figure 20: Total US on-premise alcohol sales, at current prices, 2015-25
      • Figure 21: Total US on-premise alcohol sales, at current prices, 2015-25
  7. Market Opportunities

    • Consumers adopt new social behaviors during the pandemic
      • Figure 22: Activities during pandemic, September 2020
      • Figure 23: Activities during pandemic, virtual happy hours, by generation, September 2020
    • Online retailers can facilitate discovery
    • Growing soft power of South Korea offers new opportunities
      • Figure 24: Mentions of K-pop on social media channels, November 2017-September 2020
      • Figure 25: Mentions of soju on social media channels, November 2017-September 2020
    • Consumers are increasingly interested in BFY drinks
  8. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Gin and tequila grow and innovate
    • Vodka remains steady while rum stagnates
  9. White Spirit Brand Performance

    • Tito’s to become the number one vodka brand
      • Figure 26: volume sales of vodka, top 15 brands, on and off premise, thousand 9-liter cases, % change 2018-19
    • Gin is ready to take off
      • Figure 27: volume sales of gin, top 15 brands, on and off premise, thousand 9-liter cases, % change 2018-19
    • Rum is a whitespace category but struggles with its identity
      • Figure 28: Volume sales of rum, top 15 brands, on- and off-premise, thousand 9-liter cases, % change 2018-19
    • Premium tequila is a thriving category
      • Figure 29: volume sales of tequila, top 15 brands, on and off premise, thousand 9-liter cases, % change 2018-19
  10. Competitive Strategies

    • Build upon tequila’s firm foundation
    • Gin can provide a sense of place
    • Aviation opens the door for American craft gin
    • White spirit brands can it
    • Paper packaging offers sustainable benefits
      • Figure 30: Beverage packaging type associations, April 2020
  11. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • High-earning younger consumers are interested in BFY spirits
    • Spirit preferences vary widely by age
    • Consumers want to explore spirits on a budget
  12. Alcohol Consumption

    • White spirit consumption outpaces dark spirits
      • Figure 31: Alcohol consumption, most vs also drink, September 2020
    • Older consumers cut back on white spirits
      • Figure 32: Alcohol consumption, by age and gender, any drink, September 2020
      • Figure 33: Change in white spirit consumption, by age and gender, any drink, September 2019-September 2020
  13. Alcohol Consumption by Occasion

    • Spirits struggle from the loss of on-premise sales
      • Figure 34: Alcohol consumption by occasion, by those who drink alcohol type, September 2020
  14. White Spirit Purchases

    • Mezcal makes moves
      • Figure 35: Trended white spirit purchases, 2019-2020, September 2019; September 2020
    • Party is on pause
      • Figure 36: Trended white spirit purchases, by age and gender, 2019-2020, September 2019; September 2020
    • Healthful Explorers driving spirit trends
      • Figure 37: White spirit purchases, by spirit consumer segmentation, September 2020
    • Tequila and gin can be aspirational spirits
      • Figure 38: White spirit purchases, by HHI, September 2020
    • Mezcal can make up ground among Hispanic consumers
      • Figure 39: White spirit purchases, by race and ethnic origin, September 2020
  15. Brand Tier Purchases

    • Pandemic pushes consumers to the ends of the spectrum
      • Figure 40: Brand tier purchases, 2019 vs 2020, September 2020
    • Price is right for white spirit drinkers
      • Figure 41: Brand tier purchases, among white spirit drinkers, September 2020
  16. Spirit Format Consumption

    • White spirit drinkers mix it up
      • Figure 42: Spirit format consumption, any drink, among white spirit drinkers, September 2020
      • Figure 43: Spirit format consumption, any drink, by white spirit type drinkers, September 2020
    • Connect with the home bartender
      • Figure 44: Spirit format consumption, any drink, by age, September 2020
    • Create cocktail occasions
      • Figure 45: Spirit format consumption, any drink, by spirit consumer segmentation, September 2020
  17. Premium Spirit Indicators

    • Awards and location resonate with white spirit drinkers
      • Figure 46: Premium spirit indicators, among white spirit drinkers, September 2020
    • Older consumers go for tradition, younger consumers check online
      • Figure 47: Premium spirit indicators, by age, September 2020
    • Heritage messages resonate with purists
      • Figure 48: Premium spirit indicators, by spirit consumer segmentation, September 2020
      • Figure 49: Premium spirit indicators, by white spirit type drinkers, September 2020
  18. Premium Spirit Region Associations

    • APAC spirits lag behind
      • Figure 50: Regions associated with premium spirits, among white spirit drinkers, September 2020
    • Young affluent consumers think globally
      • Figure 51: Regions associated with premium spirits, by age and HHI, September 2020
  19. New Spirit Trial

    • Pandemic places barriers to new brand trial
      • Figure 52: Spirit brand trial behaviors, among white spirit drinkers, September 2020
      • Figure 53: Spirit brand trial behaviors, by white spirit type drinkers, September 2020
      • Figure 54: Spirit trial method, among white spirit drinkers, September 2020
  20. Important Spirit Attributes

    • Health claims can be a differentiator
      • Figure 55: Important spirit attributes, among white spirit drinkers, September 2020
      • Figure 56: Important spirit attributes, by age and HHI, September 2020
    • BFY claims appeal to trend-forward consumers
      • Figure 57: Important spirit attributes, by spirit consumer segmentation, September 2020
  21. Spirit Behaviors during Financial Uncertainty

    • Consumers prioritize the familiar during uncertainty
      • Figure 58: Spirit behaviors during financial uncertainty, among white spirit drinkers, September 2020
      • Figure 59: Alcohol purchasing behaviors during financial uncertainty, by financial situation, September 2020
    • Troubled times for on-premise sales
      • Figure 60: Alcohol purchasing behaviors during financial uncertainty, by age, September 2020
  22. Spirit Product Interest

    • Think small and offer experiences
      • Figure 61: Spirit product interest, among white spirit drinkers, September 2020
    • Young consumers will be home bartenders
      • Figure 62: Spirit product interest, by gender and age, September 2020
      • Figure 63: Spirit product interest, by age and HHI, September 2020
    • Make things simple for Situational Drinkers
      • Figure 64: Spirit product interest, by spirit consumer segmentation, September 2020
    • Leverage white rum consumers’ interest in cocktails
      • Figure 65: Spirit product interest, by white spirit type drinkers, September 2020
  23. Spirit Attitudes

    • Now is the time for consumers to upgrade their home bar
      • Figure 66: Spirit attitudes, any agree, among white spirit drinkers, September 2020
      • Figure 67: Spirit attitudes, any agree, by age, September 2020
  24. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Sales data
    • Forecast
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
  25. Appendix – The Market

      • Figure 68: Total US sales of distilled spirits, 2015-24
      • Figure 69: US volume sales and forecast of white spirits, 2015-23
      • Figure 70: Total US volume sales of white spirits, by segment, 2018 and 2020
      • Figure 71: US volume sales of total distilled spirits, by channel, 2015-19
  26. Appendix – Spirit Consumer Segmentation

    • Segment definitions
    • Healthful Explorers
    • Spirit Purists
    • Occasional Drinkers
    • Situational Drinkers

About the report

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