The Impact of Ready-To-Drink (RTD) Beverages on the Spirits Industry

May 11, 2023 Haley Walker

Author: Haley Walker

In less than a decade, we’ve witnessed the speedy rise of ready-to-drink (RTD) spirits from brands including High Noon, Cutwater and many more. These new, convenient drinks quickly took the world by storm and grew in popularity amongst people of all ages, particularly millennials. So much so, the RTD category has been named one of the fastest-growing segments across all alcoholic beverages.  

Ever since these hard seltzers and canned wines began climbing in sales, it became apparent that RTDs would be more than just a passing trend. Unsurprisingly, this put pressure on traditional spirit brands to stay relevant. Today, we’ll be diving into the impact of RTDs on the industry and looking at some of the top marketing tactics we’ve seen from traditional brands. 

First, however, it’s important to understand why RTDs are so marketable to consumers. RTDs offer a few things your standard 750ml bottle doesn’t – they’re portable, convenient, lightweight and shatterproof. Additionally, unlike beer or canned wine, the ABV of RTDs can exceed the typical 4-5%. In fact, some can reach an ABV of 10% or above. 

That said, a few of our favorite traditional spirits brands have recognized the need for innovation and launched new and exciting packaging, partnerships and more to set themselves apart in today’s RTD world. 

Can The Classics 

One recent creative example is from Tennessee whiskey brand, Jack Daniel’s. Just about one month ago, Jack Daniel’s and Coca-Cola teamed up to roll out a canned version of the iconic classic cocktail – Jack and Coke. This RTD cocktail aims to provide consumers with a “consistent, convenient and portable format” of the beverage. Together, this powerhouse duo is sure to make a splash in the RTD market. 

Ditch The Mixers 

While some brands have released RTD mixed drinks, others have opted to ditch the mixers altogether and, instead, introduce canned alcohol with no additional ingredients. Take Skrewball Whiskey’s first-to-market 100ml cans, for example. 

We love that this can easily be sipped (straight) while sitting by the pool, in the backyard or on the beach!  

Evolving Consumption Patterns 

While transforming the spirits industry, RTD beverages have proven to shape consumption patterns of almost all liquor lovers. Demand for these pre-made drinks has even invaded the bar and restaurant scene, with many establishments adding RTD options to their menus – a quick and efficient way to make their customers happy. Not to mention, no mixologists needed! 

With the creation of a highly desirable – and unstoppable – category like this one, it’s clear that the spirits industry is forever changed. RTDs are here to stay, and we’re thrilled to see what’s in store down the line, from exciting product launches to unexpected partnerships.