COMMENT: UK drinking - sophistication nation
Research has suggested that UK drinkers are becoming more sophisticated in their tastes.
Drinks companies are increasingly finding that the popularity of 'alcopops' and RTDs is on the wane. UK drinkers are seemingly becoming more upmarket in their tastes, as evidenced by the vibrant bar culture in Manchester, which is seen as pointing the way towards a more mature drinking culture across the UK.
Drinks companies and bar owners are becoming increasingly aware of the need to cater for more mature tastes among consumers, as research points to the fading of the RTD 'alcopop' fad. Recent high profile failures, such as gin-based RTD Gordon's Edge, are a testament to this trend.
There are also signs that drinks promoters and distributors may be veering away from their all-out focus on youth in favour of targeting an older audience. According to a survey of industry executives, middle-age consumers and young adults are currently seen as equally important as influencers of flavour innovation in the alcoholic drinks category. This is somewhat surprising, given that middle-age consumers are typically perceived as being more settled in brand and flavour preferences, and that their inclination to experiment and innovate is smaller.
According to a report in the Observer newspaper, the north-west city of Manchester is increasingly seen as a microcosm of this new sophistication in drinking. Mancunians, who enjoy a higher bars per capita ratio than the inhabitants of any other city in Britain, have a particularly strong concept of bar culture, according to experts, and this makes them discerning judges. The city is increasingly thought of as the best spring-board for national brands and promoters of new bar chains or new drinks can be confident that a brand which succeeds in Manchester will succeed in the rest of the country
Ready-to-drink spirits have seen a downturn in sales recently, as modern consumers reject the "childish" appeal of these drinks and look to wine-based drinks, cocktails and liqueurs to help them enjoy their nights out. The emergence of Manchester as a centre of sophisticated socialising reflects the need for the drinks industry to tailor its offerings to a more discerning audience.
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