Trending in Alcoholic Beverages: The Ready-to-Drink (RTD) Takeover

Spirits RTD Takeover

The alcoholic beverages industry has to continuously reinvent itself. Sure, consumers will always love a good, ol’ classic Burgundy wine or a flavorful Caribbean rum, but the world craves new tastes, new packaging, and new fun drinks.

Meet the decade’s (so far) frontrunner: canned cocktails, known as ready-to-drink beverages.

The Spectacular Rise of the Ready-to-Drink Alcoholic Beverages

It wasn’t so long ago that people frowned at boxed or canned wine. Beer drinkers, too, thought that bottled beers (especially craft specialties) were superior in taste to canned ones.

But canning technology evolved. And a pandemic hit. This left people who used to sip cocktails at a bar from happy hour until the wee hours of the morning looking for alternatives. What do you do when your favorite drinking establishment is in lockdown—and so are you?

You head to the supermarket, hoping to find a good replacement. And find you shall, because there is now no shortage of canned cocktails, hard seltzers, wines, beers, and cannabis drinks to try.

The ready-to-drink cocktails market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.10% between 2020 and 2025. North America leads the way, with 37% of the market's growth originating here.

A study by IWSR shows that the rise to fame of RTD drinks started before the pandemic (in 2018, to be precise), but has been accelerated by it. RTDs held an estimated market share of 4% in 2020, and this value is expected to double by 2025. That’s quite the leap!

You may think this is all about hard seltzers and wonder why there’s such a big leap. Even though hard seltzers have been a frontrunner, there are so many other options. IWSR identifies no less than seven major categories of RTDs on the rise:

  • Hard seltzers
  • Canned cocktails and long drinks (mojito, negroni, moscow mule, Long Island iced tea)
  • Hard coffees (cold brew or creamy)
  • Hard teas
  • Wine coolers or spritzers (a mix of wine and carbonated water or juice)
  • Hard kombuchas (fermented and sweetened black or green tea, sometimes blended with natural juices)
  • FAB (flavored alcoholic beverages), a category that includes already well-known drinks like Bacardi Breezer or Smirnoff Ice and other similar drinks

RTDs seem to fare well with all consumer categories. No surprises there, since they offer such a wide variety of choices that there’s bound to be something to love for everyone. 

While some analysts say that RTDs take pieces from the market share of every other alcoholic drink (wine, beer, spirits), it’s worth noting that the “classic” drinks are often part of the new wave of drinks’ formula.

More importantly, wine, spirits, and beer manufacturers have jumped on board this bandwagon and have started to produce canned beverages—either mixes or the pure drink in a canned form.

For example, Seven Days Cocktail Co. creates specialty cocktails, perfects the recipes, and then bottles them for enjoyment whenever and wherever. In the mood for something fruity? Try the Spicy Blood Orange and Passion Fruit Margarita. Want something familiar? There’s the Cara Cara Orange Old Fashioned. Want to feel like you’re in the big city? Grab a Passion Fruit Cosmopolitan.

RTD spirit label  RTD label old fashioned Spirits RTD ready to drink label

Seven Days Cocktail uses the Labeltronix Dynamic Hybrid Solution to create unique labels for their cocktails, whether they’re bottling 20 or 2,000 of a flavor.

How Is the Labeling Industry Adjusting to the New Trends?

The global supply chain issues have been affecting the labeling industry just as hard as they have hit pretty much every industry out there. Winemakers are scrambling to find glass bottles for their products. Of course, everything seems to be in short supply these days, but it helps to expand your options and have more than one type of packaging for your final product. This is why, along with RTDs, wines and spirits are also more likely to be found in cans. 

At Labeltronix, we’ve always tried to stay one step ahead of both trends and challenges. We have been offering a wide range of can labeling options for years now, so this trend is right up our alley. We know that can labeling can get very expensive very fast, especially if you have small batches to produce, as it happens with craft breweries or smaller RTDs manufacturers.

At Labeltronix, you can find can labels that are both cost-efficient and eye-catching. For instance, instead of spending a fortune on shrink cans, you can use pressure-sensitive can labels for more flexibility in design, finishes, and application.

The Labeltronix can label wraps are fast to produce and you can pretty much create any design you want:

  • Add foil and spot varnish printed on metalized film for a look that definitely catches the eye of any shopper
  • Choose from a wide variety of pressure-sensitive label materials
  • Get options for embellishments and finishes

Want to know more about how our labeling solution can make your cans “pop”? We’re always ready to help you with suggestions and ideas. Get in touch with us and a labeling expert will answer all your questions. 

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