Spirits have experienced exponential growth over the past year, with sales at pubs and bars increasing by 400% year-on-year from March 2020 to March 2021.
According to analysis by mobile ordering and payment platform me&u, the most ordered spirit has been vodka, followed by gin, rum and whiskey. These have all seen significant growth, but vodka and gin have roughly doubled in demand. Industry insiders note this might be due to consumer perception that gin and vodka are better suited to a balanced lifestyle due to their low-calories credentials.
It’s not just spirits that are booming. Venues are also reporting that customer behaviour has shown an increase in sober curiosity and a demand for alternative drinks and more non-alcoholic beverages on menus for those who still want to go out to pubs and bars and feel a part of the occasion.
Melbourne venue Wesley Anne (above) has seen a 50% increase in sales of non-alcoholic beverages since October last year, and me&u predicts that this category will continue to see massive growth over the next year.
Nathan Muller, owner of Wesley Anne, said: “We have seen a big upwards trend in our customers requesting non-alcoholic drinks and we are looking to respond to this demand by expanding and diversifying our offering with more non-alcoholic beers, wines and mocktails.”
Patrons more adventurous with their spirits choices
Customers are no longer just ordering the standard house spirits either, but instead opting for their favourite homegrown or international premium brands.
The theory from me&u is that its platform makes orders more accessible: customers can see the entire range of spirits available, encouraging choice by prompting customers with different spirits brands and making it less intimidating for those who may otherwise opt for the house pour out of ease.
At The Royal Oak in Double Bay (above), for example, 70% of vodka orders through me&u requested a premium brand, such as Grey Goose and Belvedere.
Matthew Murray, Group General Manager of Royal Hotels Group, said: “Since we introduced the technology, we have seen guest behaviour change. Customers no longer feel silly for not being able to pronounce a brand correctly or feel uncomfortable asking for the price difference between items. It is now all at their fingertips and they are happy to explore the ranges we have on offer and spend appropriately.”
Cocktails have also made up almost 20% of all drinks ordered on me&u, a sharp increase from pre-COVID behaviour, with customers excited to be out in venues again and happy to spend money on skillfully prepared drinks, with beautiful imagery and descriptions offered on me&u menus.
“It’s not really surprising to see the uplift we have experienced in certain categories of spirits and cocktails,” Murray said. “It’s reflective of the tech; visual prompts help how our customers interact with our different offerings and make conscious decisions to step up from an entry level item.”
me&u Founder Stevan Premutico added: “We’ve seen a new type of customer emerge post-COVID and a big comeback recently in regards to spirits and the custom style drinks list. We believe this is because Aussies were ready to be more curious, adventurous and explore a more varied drinks list after being stuck at home for long periods during COVID-19. Customers were mostly consuming beers and wines during their time spent in isolation, but once the restrictions were lifted, we saw an increase in embracing a more distinct beverage like spirits and cocktails.”