Soaking Up C-Store Insights on Ready-to-Drink Cocktail Sales

Even as high inflation rates impact the buying behaviors of many American consumers, it’s clear that shoppers continue to make indulgent purchases. The latest convenience store industry sales data analyzed by PDI reveals strong sales within the wine, liquor, and beer categories. In fact, alcohol sales continue to be a key growth driver for convenience stores, with sales up significantly year over year from 2022 to 2023:

  • Beer sales were up 6% YoY
  • Liquor sales were up 10% YoY
  • Wine sales were up 21% YoY

While the average price per unit was relatively flat for beer and slightly down for wine, liquor came in with 5% growth—much of which has been driven by the booming ready-to-drink (RTD) premixed cocktail market. The rise in popularity of the RTD cocktail subcategory (inclusive of all brands) has been remarkable, with data revealing an impressive 109% growth rate YoY.

To track just how popular that subcategory has become, PDI analyzed retail purchase transactions across nearly 11,000 convenience store locations in all 50 states, with a special focus on the top five brands based on market share and overall distribution:

  • BuzzBallz
  • Chi-Chi’s
  • Cutwater
  • High Noon
  • Monaco

Although the BuzzBallz and Monaco brands are the current market share leaders in this liquor subcategory, the High Noon and Cutwater brands especially are soaring in terms of sales growth, albeit from a smaller base. In fact, all five brands have experienced at least 100% sales growth during the past year, with High Noon outpacing the pack by a factor of five.

Bar chart showing year over year percentage sales growth of BuzzBallz, Bhi-Chi's, Cutwater, High Noon, and Monaco ready-to-drink cocktails

Even though all five brands are performing impressively, it’s clear that RTD cocktails growth is a national trend and much stronger than any individual brand. Witness the fact that overall sales growth for the subcategory was greater than 100% across all six regions of the United States:

Even though RTD cocktails represent one of the hottest segments in the liquor category, the data indicates that there’s still room for growth. Compared to established liquor brands, the RTD brands still have relatively limited distribution and shelf space. However, as product awareness grows and distribution channels expand, don’t be surprised to see RTD cocktails become an even bigger driver of liquor sales in the convenience space in 2024 and beyond.

Key takeaways: 3 steps to maximize profits

To take advantage of the thriving RTD cocktails subcategory, convenience retailers should take three steps to maximize their profits:

  1. Access timely data reports to stay ahead of changing consumer behaviors
  2. Allocate more shelf space to RTD cocktails to optimize sales
  3. Pinpoint any specific local and regional trends on brand preferences

Looking for more industry insights?

If you want to catch up on the latest data-driven insights and industry trends, be sure to download the PDI “Tracking Convenience Report: From the Pump to the C-store.”

You can also visit the 2024 trends page and view the 2024 industry trends webinar.

By “Connecting Convenience” across the industry ecosystem, PDI can help you and your business succeed regardless of what market dynamics you face in 2024. Contact us today to learn how we can help you transform your business.

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