Nielsen insight: RTDs are not the alcopops you might imagine

The RTD category has long been associated with sugary, candy-flavoured, neon-coloured alcoholic drinks, but today this couldn’t be further from the case.

A complete revamp of the RTD offer and a premium repositioning with sophisticated flavours, combinations and new product releases from high-end alcohol brands have turned the RTD category on its head, boosting sales by almost a third to reach £308 million. RTDs are now growing three times faster than the off-trade alcohol category as a whole.

Today’s RTDs are not just limited to the traditional combination of spirits and mixers, though these offers still remain central to their popularity. 

This year, wine RTDs have found their way on to our supermarket shelves as the category looks for new and innovative ways to grow and attract new shoppers. 

Over the past year alone more than 50 new RTDs of one sort or another have come on to the market. 

All of this innovation means that the demographic profile of the typical British RTD shopper is changing rapidly. Where this format was once a hit with the younger shopper, today’s key RTD shopper is aged over 45, thanks to the influx of premium offers and well-known brands. This shift is important to note for two reasons: over-45 shoppers are one of the key demographic groups for FMCG products because of their spending power and are much more willing to splash their cash than younger shoppers.

No wonder RTDs are being ranged far more widely than they were in the past. Just take a look in your local supermarket and you’ll see that RTDs, which once were allotted a single shelf, have expanded to multiple shelves and, in some cases, entire bays. 

We are also starting to see more and more RTDs appearing in chillers, and not just in independent stores. RTDs are now a key feature in supermarket convenience chillers, often taking up whole chillers in key travel locations and even starting to appear alongside food-to-go items. 

Supermarkets are capitalising on this popularity and seeking to capture shoppers on a variety of missions, through dual locations of RTDs in new areas
of stores.

This category is not yet saturated and there is room for new entrants with bold, innovative and more premium offerings. It can also serve as a great entry point to the alcohol category for brands in soft drinks, juice and more, looking to push the boundaries of innovation. In any case, whether you’re a manufacturer or retailer, if RTDs aren’t on your growth plan, they should be. 

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