It’s International Canned Cocktail Day, or as they’re more commonly known here in Australia, ready to drink (RTD) or premix drinks day.
Here in Australia, we’re unique when it comes to the RTD category, where we lead the world in both consumption and innovation. So, to celebrate we’re taking the opportunity to delve into all things data, innovation and trends around ready to drink beverages in Australia, providing valuable insight into consumer behaviour and how you might be able to leverage them for your business.
Whether you prefer a cocktail, or a good old premix can (or bottle), settle in with your favourite tipple as we take you through the history of the RTD category and where we find ourselves today.
It all started with UDL
Alcohol has seen prevalence in Australia since colonisation, where convicts were partially paid with rum. Spirits were the most widely consumed alcoholic beverages in Australia in the 1800s, but RTD spirits didn’t come into the picture until over a century later, where RTDs became available in the 1960s following the launch of UDL cans, or ‘oodles’ as they were affectionally know.
Into the 2000s
RTDs have seen near continuous growth in Australia from the launch of UDL cans in 1965, bucking the trend set by the rest of the world. As the Sydney Morning Herald highlighted in 2005, “While sales of RTDs are flat or in free-fall in markets around the world, in Australia they are booming. No other market has dark spirits-based RTDs such as those in Australia, nor is there a proliferation of drinks in cans.”
Fast forward to the 2020’s it seems the rest of the world is starting to see the appeal, with canned cocktails now the fastest-growing alcohol beverage category in the United States market according to the IWSR, being driven almost entirely by the Seltzer category. But does this mean the RTD category is slowing down in Australia, or is it booming better than ever? Let’s find out.
The RTD category is up 28% in value and 23% in volume over the last year in Australia, and although we are seeing volume growth, the higher growth in value suggests that consumers are trading up into premium products. This falls in line with the proliferation of the premiumisation trend we’ve seen over the last 24 months, where consumers are choosing to drink less, but drink better.
The Bourbon category is the leader of Australian RTDs, with a 47% market share. This category has seen growth shifting away from No or Low Sugar and high ABV products, further supporting the trend toward higher priced RTD products.
Gin has also seen strong, sustained growth, with the highest level of value growth in the RTD category over the last 12 months, adding an additional 62% of value to the Gin category when compared with the previous year. Gin has also seen substantial growth in the number of new products, with an additional 55% of SKU’s entering the market over the last 12 months.
Lastly, Seltzer has arrived in the Australian market with an increase in category share by 2.26% on last year, the largest in the RTD category. Interestingly, this growth comes at the expense of the Dark RTD, particularly Bourbon. Seltzer has also seen a proliferation of the number SKU’s over the last 12 months with an increase in numbers by 300%.
It’s Been A Long Road
Aussies have been enjoying ready to drink alcoholic beverages since the 1960s, and while the rest of the world continue to catch onto what we’ve been enjoying for decades, we can celebrate our world leader status raising a toast to International Canned Cocktail Day and the invention of RTDs.