Premiumisation driving UK spirits, says First Drinks

Premiumisation is driving UK spirits volume and value growth in the on and off-trade, according to findings by First Drinks.

In its first market report, the spirits and champagne supplier also noted the potential in the convenience and 'gifting' channels.

“There’s a big growth opportunity in convenience," said John Hyman, sales director of First Drinks.

Hyman valued 'gifting' at £572m a year in the UK, and said that by offering smaller bottle formats, such as 50cl and 35cl, retailers can make malt whisky, cognac and vodka more accessible to consumers.

The report also found that innovation, particularly the development of RTDs (Ready to Drink), would continue to be important, while cocktail culture has increased, with a 36% rise experienced in the on-trade last year.

Speaking about the premiumisation of the spirits market , marketing director Una McCullough, described consumers in 2011 as being “more brand savvy” and said people are looking for provenance, authenticity, heritage and quality in brands.

Chris Mason, managing director of First Drinks said: “Despite this report being published during a very challenging time for the economy, it clearly demonstrates the continued importance of premiumisation, best practice and working closely with customers.

"If these key trends are pursued, we can ensure the exciting evolution of the drinks industry.”

The ‘de-seasonality’ of consumption was also highlighted as important for the market’s ongoing health, with consumer experimentation is said to be a key driver of growth.

Online shopping is also seen by First Drinks as a “real growth opportunity”, as only 36% of online shoppers buy beer, wine or spirits.