Hometainment and rise of the Internet of Drinks
Intoxicating technological advancements will radicalise drinking rituals at home while streamlining the on-trade experience. From holistic ecosystems providing infinite customisation and personalisation options in mixing, purchasing and sharing to accessible home-brewing devices and from apps seamlessly bridging the on and off-trades 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 but on the other they will prove hugely accommodative for novel concepts on positioning and occasions beyond traditionalist norms.
With medicinal or recreational access 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 consumption patterns where cannabis disruption can prove seismic.
Appellations and terroir, Cannoisseurs and cannabis pairings – the embryonic marihuana industry is already appropriating alcohol’s semiotics. Hybrid products could well be the way to harness the potential of both.
Land of Confusion
From President Trump taking office to the Brexit saga reaching escape velocity and from the fate of the Russian sanctions to a series of unpredictable European electoral battles, black swan events, socioeconomic outliers and political and exchange rate volatility will create a fiery mix . 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, aversion to corporate offerings and embrace of hyper-localisation that can also provide opportunities as has been demonstrated by the micro segments.
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 Boomers- after all they were the primary flag bearers of the political earthquakes of 2016 and have hence reasserted their status.
But this will also be the year that brands are taking 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.