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Drink trends: from cocktail nostalgia to mindful sips

Three cocktails lined up in a row
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Aug 16, 2022 By WGSN Insider
Updates from WGSN

From the Espresso Martini to the Shirley Temple, find out how brands are leveraging nostalgia to introduce innovative formats of familiar drinks.

At WGSN, we’ve been tracking the appeal of nostalgia and how consumers are seeking comfort amid this period of uncertainty. But how does that translate to the drink category? And how can we continue to innovate in the nostalgia space when it is so familiar?

Listen to consumers; some want healthy options, others put sustainability first. There is also demand for more indulgent formats. Join the discussion with Bethan Ryder, WGSN’s Executive Editorial Director; Jennifer Creevy, WGSN’s Director of Food & Drink; Claire Lancaster, WGSN’s Head of Food & Drink; and Brielle Saggese, Strategist on WGSN Insight. 

Discover the drink trends across demographics, from Boomers to Gen Z, and how the general mood of nostalgia sparked by the pandemic has trickled into the drinks market.

A group of multiethnic friends clinking bottles
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Balancing old and new

“That desire for nostalgia is rising once again. We saw searches for “What is an Espresso Martini?” up 300% in 2021. Nostalgic drinks can spark happiness and relaxation, but also they can just be fun, which is definitely what we all need right now. 

“What’s also interesting about nostalgia is although we’re all lusting after drinks that we remember, we also want them to be overhauled, whether that’s in a sustainable way or a healthful way, or even to become much more indulgent. So there’s definitely evolution in nostalgia.”
– Jennifer Creevy, Director of WGSN Food & Drink

Liquor pouring in clear shot glass
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Mindful drinking

“The Food & Drink team does social listening; during the pandemic, as we watched levels of stress and anxiety hit highs, we saw a lot of interactions with posts containing the phrase ‘mood-boosting’, which is unsurprising as we were all struggling in lockdowns.

“But what was surprising was that an engagement with low alcohol followed that pattern. This reflects a potentially longer-term shift in the way that some people are thinking about the role of alcohol and stress relief.”
– Claire Lancaster, Head of WGSN Food & Drink

Person holding pineapple on seashore
AJ Garcia/Unsplash

The discovery generation

“Ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails have this natural element of discovery and thanks to the internet, Millennials and Gen Z have been in a constant discovery mode for most of their lives. So RTDs allowed that online discovery to move into an IRL space, where you could walk through your grocery store, easily find and explore different flavours or ingredient combinations.”
– Brielle Saggese, Strategist, WGSN Insight

To hear the full discussion, tune into episode 59 of our Create Tomorrow podcast, Drink Trends – From Cocktail Nostalgia to Mindful Sipping, on Anchor, Apple and Spotify.

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