World Cocktail Day: Happy hours on the go with RTD cocktails | Latest News India

Ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails are having their moment in India. The coronavirus pandemic, shut pubs and bars, forced people indoors and this lead to the emergence of on-premise cocktail culture at home. Even with restrictions being lifted, the cocktail hour has RTDs as companions, with several players entering the space of RTD cocktails.

Viraj Sawant, co-founder, InACan, a crafted canned cocktails startup says, “Everybody is looking for a convenient option to drink. We were the first ones to launch canned cocktails in the country and launched it in the year 2020. It was during this time, that people were looking to experiment and try out new stuff at home.Our sales have gone almost 3-4 times in the last 4 months, especially after our participation at Shark Tank India. People are accepting it, as it’s a quality product and it’s the convenience aspect that drives people to it. They don’t need to mix anything. They don’t need to give two thoughts about what to drink, how to mix it with and what to mix it with. They just have to chill it, open it and drink it. That’s’ how easy it. The canned cocktail market is growing globally almost 26%-27 %.”

Ready-to-drink cocktails, or RTDs, are conveniently packaged, alcohol-included cocktails that can be consumed on-the go. These were introduced in the late 1980s in the USA, as fruity, sugary concoctions with cheap malt alcohol base. However, this gradually changed with brands offering convenience with quality.

“There is regular stuff in everybody’s home, wine, beer or whisky and people were looking for a change like a cocktail during the lockdown. Most of us don’t know how to make a cocktail or even have the right accessories to make it. Sameer Mirajkar (co-founder) and I worked in the USA and UK. We’ve seen canned cocktails in the market, and we didn’t have one here. We thought it’s an excellent opportunity and there is a gap in the market for this,” says Sawant.One of their most popular cocktail is the Rum Latte, a concoction of rum, coffee, vanilla and hazelnut.

These RTD cocktails offer the evolved consumer segment a hassle free drinking experience. The convenience of having your favourite craft cocktail at home, at a reasonable price, has fuelled the demand.

Vidur Relan, founder BEAT Cocktails that has launched carbonated gin-based cocktails says, “Making cocktails is a tedious process, from procuring ingredients to getting the right recipes, making it challenging for the consumers to prepare and consume cocktails conveniently. We are redefining the cocktail drinking experience. When we say cocktails, the pre -notion is that they are alcoholic beverages that you get in bars.”

Ready-to-drink segment has couple of verticals such as ‘ready-to-drink wines’, ‘ready-to-drink mixes’ and more in the market. “RTD cocktails is another niche in this category that is growing phenomenally. We expect this to grow from 0.5 % of share of the entire alcobev market to 3% by 2025. This change that is happening in the alcobev industry, is all because of the change on the preferences of millennials and the younger generation. People want to move away from yellow drinks and those heavy drinks which are not so hygienically healthy. They are looking for healthier and lighter alternative, on the go and that is the entire idea essentially,” says Relan. The brand presently offers three flavours – Original, Watermelon Crush, and Cucumber Ice

According to a report by Grand View Research, Inc., the global ready to drink cocktails market size is expected to reach USD 2.43 billion by 2030. Asia Pacific is expected to register the fastest CAGR of 14.9% from 2022 to 2030. According to the report, “The convenience offered by these drinks, along with the low alcohol level and lower price in comparison to cocktails served at bars, makes them an ideal choice for young consumers in this region.”

Nitesh Prakash, founder O’ Be Cocktails says, “Millennials and Gen Z are looking for drinks to enjoy and socialise with friends rather than just to get high. RTD products range from anywhere between 3% to 8% alcohol by volume and are ideal for social gatherings at home and house parties. An Indian consumer is looking to experiment and variety beyond traditional alcoholic beverages, and the RTD cocktails market is here to provide it. This sector has increased in the last two to three years with many innovations, new products, and flavours introduced into the market.” The brand offers four flavours of cocktails that includes Fab Cosmopolitan, Lively LIIT, Zesty Mojito, and Sauve Gin and Tonic.

Prakash, started developing RTD cocktails in his kitchen with a few of his mixologist friends. It took them more than a year, to finalise the premium distilled spirits from multiple parts of the countries, natural flavours, sustainable packaging, and others. “After coming across simple challenges like the difference in taste and profile of the same cocktail across different locations, the high price of the category, no readily available solution for at-home drinking occasions, and the knowledge gap among consumers. Small-scale experimentation started from the kitchen and with time we figured, O’ Be Cocktails,” says Prakash.

The shift in consumers’ taste towards creative choices have lead to brands collaborating and launching limited edition of cocktails in a bottle. For instance, a small- batch, distilled cocktail called Perry Road Peru was launched during the peru (pink guava) season in the year 2020 and a second batch was released in the year 2021.

Sakshi Saigal, co-founder, Stranger & Sons says, “We launched Perry Road Peru, a distilled cocktail in collaboration with The Bombay Canteen with the overarching idea of elevating cocktail culture in India and embracing unconventionality while at the same time uplifting the home-drinking experience. Along with exploring the untapped market of bottled cocktails, we’re looking to cultivate a culture of innovation and collaboration on our home ground and we look forward to bringing a new, unique distilled cocktail every year to surprise our consumers in the most unexpected ways. Humble and highly seasonal, the peru played the perfect muse for us to capture Mumbai’s spirit.” Saigal adds, “India’s growing cocktail culture is also proof that a lot of Indian consumers are excited to try local, homegrown products as well as new, atypical cocktails that are rooted in India’s heritage but with a modern approach! Hence, there’s definitely a future for ready-to-drink cocktails.”

So, which age group does the RTD cocktails appeal to most?

“We have some 18,000 followers on Instagram. The age group, 23-37 age is about 80 percent of the followers and that is mostly our consumers,” says Sawant.

The best part of the cocktail category is that the target consumer is specific to the cocktails, adds Prakash. “Our Lively Long Island Iced Tea is popular among young adults from 21 to 30 who are looking to enjoy with their friends. Zesty Mojito and Fab Cosmopolitan are popular among 25 to 35 year old premium consumers looking for a chill vibe with their companions. Suave Gin & Tonic is cutting across all age groups, starting with 21 year olds who are enjoying the weekend drinking with their college friends to a 35 to 40 year old who is looking for a low sugar perfect Gin & Tonic.”

The author tweets @Namyasinha

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