Sophie Bennett
Sophie Bennett
Account Director

2015 drinks industry trends at Imbibe Live

Whether you’re interested in wine, spirits, beer, or cider, as a consumer you may have noticed some not-so-subtle changes in the drinks industry over the last few years. The drinks industry has been in severe decline for some time, and as a result bars as well as brands have had to fight even harder to catch the attention of a much more demanding consumer in today’s noisy, overcrowded world.

Having said that, it’s an exciting time for the drinks industry, and nothing brings as many threads together quite like Imbibe Live. photo.

So, as the Account Director for Crabbie’s Ginger Beer, Lamb’s Navy Rum and Whitley Neill Gin, I trekked down to London Olympia on perhaps one of the hottest days of the year to engage with the latest trends shaping the industry, and sample the major brands and new products all under one roof.

This year’s programme was curated by leading industry figures and ambassadors across each drinks category and I treated myself to several thought-provoking talks from leading drinks experts in between the mandatory sampling!

The Gorgeous Group’s Barny Ingram spoke about story-telling through tailored offerings, music, and design to bring concepts to life, elevate stories and leverage guest experience to ultimately drive sales, using examples such as Anvil, Craft pre-bottled cocktails, and of course Brew Dog.

Next up one of Imbibe’s most popular talks (presumably because you are greeted with a table of beer to ‘taste’), Beer Trends. Presented by Thinking Drinkers, Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham  who explored key trends for 2015.

The Thinking Drinkers evolved from the idea that in an era when drink and drinking is increasingly seen as a social problem, the concept of ‘drinking less, drinking better’ remains a potent one.

More information can be found here and they can be followed on Twitter at @thinkingdrinks.

The second day started with a talk on on-trade trends with Kate Nicholls from ALMR. We are all far too aware that out of home drinking has fallen 10% over the last decade, and with people now looking for a more premium experience, trading up is the topic on everyone’s lips (dubbed the David Beckham, Haig effect).

Craft beer is still one to watch, with the category currently holding 3% of the market, worth £428.5m, compared to £91.5m 5 years ago, revealing Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle as the most innovative areas in the country following London.

And, last  but not least Christopher Cooper spoke to us about engaging the Millennials: the emerging drinking generation with £1.62 trillion spending power.

The 18 to 35-year-old, ambitious, non-conformist, engaged, social media-savvy, information-focused Y-Gens are the drinks industry’s future. Luckily I fit within this category, so it wasn’t too hard to get my head around what they want from marketing: Brands with Personality, High Quality Products, Two way conversations, Entertainment as well as ethics and morality of course!

All this means that brands have to work harder than ever to build strong, emotive, relationships with consumers. When we created the Lazy Jack’s cider brand, we were extremely conscious of this. To ensure the brand stood out from the likes of Kopparberg and Rekorderlig, we gave Lazy Jack’s a strong, endearing personality. The brand is into the same music as the consumer, it likes the same food as they do; it mirrors their lifestyle. The result is an effortlessly strong link with the consumer because the brand is genuinely endearing.

All in all it was a great 2 days, and as a consumer there are certainly some interesting new products to look out for! These were some of my favourite new products at the show:

Just for adults, new Lic alco-lollies – University graduates Harry Stimpson and Noah Greeves, both 23, showcased their cocktail-flavoured lollies – available in Pina Colada or Mojito varieties -Just imagine an alcoholic Calippo! Check them out at @havealic

Black Cow Vodka – bearing in mind I hate vodka, Black Cow is delicious. Situated on England’s West Dorset coast Black Cow Vodka produce the world’s only Pure Milk Vodka™ made entirely from the milk of grass grazed cows and nothing else. Sounds pretty weird but the fresh whole milk makes an exceptionally smooth vodka with a unique creamy character. Highly Recommended!

Masons Dry Yorkshire Tea Infused Gin – There seems to a lot of interesting flavours going round the drinks industry (in the hope of making a more unique offering) and the Masons Dry Yorkshire Gin range comes a gin with a rather familiar flavour to it – this one is focused on the scrummy, subtly aromatic notes of Yorkshire tea and is delicious! To see how we create a difference in the drinks industry why not read the Crabbie’s case study.

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