Key trends for the alcohol category in 2017 - Focus

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What trends can the beer, spirits and wine sectors expect to shape the year ahead? Here, Euromonitor's senior alcoholic drinks analyst, Spiros Malandrakis, previews what 2017 has in store.

  • Hometainment and rise of the Internet of Drinks

Intoxicating technological advancements are set to radicalise the drinking ritual at home while streamlining the on-premise experience. From holistic ecosystems providing infinite customisation and personalisation options in mixing, purchasing and sharing, to accessible home-brewing devices; from apps seamlessly bridging the on- and off-premises, to initiatives focusing on nano-blending, preserving and reviewing, beer goggles are turning into virtual reality headsets.

Such developments will inevitably have a binary effect; On the one hand, they will be disruptive towards established consumption habits. On the other, they will prove hugely accommodative for novel concepts on positioning and occasions beyond the traditional norms.

Forget on-trade and off-trade, here comes home-trade - Click here for a just-drinks comment

  • Cannabis Cocktail

With medicinal or recreational access to marijuana now a reality for the majority of US states, a national legalisation initiative planned for Canada in 2018 and a number of European countries contemplating more progressive policies, the rising green tide can no longer be ignored or reversed. Will the dreaded substitution effect materialise? Competition on labour, water supplies, land values and tourism revenues are issues already impacting the supply and production sides of both industries. But, it is in the retail space and in consumption patterns where cannabis disruption can prove seismic.

Appellations and terroir, Cannoisseurs and cannabis pairings – the embryonic marijuana industry is already appropriating alcohol's semiotics. Hybrid products could well be the way to harness the potential of both.

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  • Land of Confusion

From President Trump taking office to the Brexit saga reaching escape velocity; from the fate of the Russian sanctions to a series of unpredictable European electoral battles, black swan events, socioeconomic out-liers and political and exchange rate volatility will create a fiery mix in 2017. Protectionist policies, retaliatory tariffs, enforced demographic shifts and an urgent rethink of geographic diversification initiatives appear to be the ultimate culmination of socio-political undercurrents around the globe.

On the other hand, it is these same forces of distrust towards the mainstream, an aversion to corporate offerings and the embracing of hyper-localisation that can also provide opportunities, as has been demonstrated by the micro-segments.

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  • Genderless, ageless and political - Marketing-breaking taboos

The near-fetishisation of the Millennial generation and the inherently-patronising tone of gendered targeting will give way to a more inclusive approach, a wider spectrum of initiatives focusing on a cross-section of age demographics and a re-discovery of the Baby Boomers. After all, they were the primary flag bearers of the political earthquakes of 2016 and have hence reasserted their relevance.

But, this will also be the year that brands will take a stand. Environmental, LGBT, equality, racism and inclusivity – politicised messages addressing all these issues will become the key in engaging gatekeepers and a vital vehicle for surfing the waves of political volatility and corporate distrust.

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