Alcoholic drinks in Australia: Premiumisation is the future

Per capita consumption of alcoholic drinks declines in 2017

Alcoholic drinks in Australia continued to feel the impact of growing health consciousness. As a result, per capita volume consumption of alcohol has largely been in decline since 2008. In addition, research from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) found that only 77% of Australian adults consumed alcohol in 2017. With 23% of Australians choosing to abstain from drinking and younger cohorts continuing to drink less than previous generations, as shown in the Government’s National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016, this is a trend that is expected to persist.

Within alcoholic drinks, this decline in per capita consumption is reflected in Australians choosing to drink less but better-quality alcohol, a trend known as premiumisation. This has endured for several years and is showing no sign of letting up. In part due to premiumisation, per capita spending on alcoholic drinks increased by 3% in 2017. Premiumisation and health and wellness concerns are two trends that often overlap, with both having an impact on the drinking choices and levels of Australians. For example, in March 2017, The Antipodes Gin Company launched Antipodes Espresso Certified Organic, a certified organic espresso liqueur. This product was inspired by the cocktail trend and growing demand for organic alcohol options in Australia due to increasing health consciousness.

Premiumisation to encourage value growth in alcoholic drinks over the forecast period

Premiumisation will remain a defining trend in alcoholic drinks in Australia over the forecast period. Due to this, alcoholic drinks will see considerably higher total value than volume growth. Australians will drink less but drink better quality alcohol. Japanese whisky is set to record the fastest total volume growth in alcoholic drinks over the forecast period, a reflection of both its scarcity and the growth of premiumisation. Manufacturers will seek to promote the premiumisation trend through continuous new product development.

The craft trend will also remain a significant driver of the premiumisation trend. Industry sources noted that if the government provided greater tax relief for craft distillers this would affect their growth, as greater government investment would facilitate higher growth for local distillers. The enduring influence of the craft trend will be seen in the strong growth predicted for English gin over the forecast period, while, within beer, this will translate into strong value growth in ale. Overall, the impact of premiumisation will continue to affect all alcoholic drinks, including cider, wine and RTDs/high-strength premixes.

Food/drink/tobacco specialists remains the key distribution channel for alcoholic drinks

Food/drink/tobacco specialists remained the leading distribution channel for alcoholic drinks in Australia in 2017. This channel was led by Woolworths’ BWS and Dan Murphy’s, Australia’s biggest liquor retailer, and Wesfarmers’ First Choice and Liquorland. Just over nine out of 10 sales of alcoholic drinks by value were from food/drink/tobacco specialists in 2017.

Alcoholic drinks sales through the internet retailing channel increased year on year over the review period. Dan Murphy’s drew on its offline brand, known for its broad product range and considered store layout, to deliver a competitive advantage online, with local consumers drawn to internet retailing for numerous reasons. Euromonitor International’s Global Consumer Trends Survey 2017 noted that Australians were motivated to shop online to get the best price, for the ability to order at any time, from anywhere and due to time savings. As internet retailing appeals to a wide range of alcoholic drinks consumers, from wine enthusiasts seeking a premium product to those looking to purchase alcohol in bulk for a celebration or to stock up, online sales of alcoholic drinks are anticipated to continue to register positive growth over the forecast period, and eat into the share of food/drink/tobacco specialists.