3 Emerging Alcohol Trends in 2016

As a brand strategist at a food and beverage agency, I have an insatiable appetite for curiosity in culture and consumer behavior. I have to – it’s part of my job. But more importantly, it’s what I love to do, and it impacts the business of nearly every client I work with. I’ve seen the beginnings of several trends that will continue to grow in 2016 and impact commerce across many categories — alcohol included.

1) Nostalgia Isn’t Always Innocent

From #tbt (Throwback Thursday) to the resurrection of our favorite childhood brands, nostalgia is making a comeback. Marketers are turning to the past for inspiration today. We’ve seen it with cereal. We’ve seen it with fast food. And we’re going to see more of it with alcohol.

Craft beer has paved the way for craft sodas and hard-crafted sodas. In January, MillerCoors’ Henry’s Hard Soda brand launched its introductory ad campaign on the heels of Not Your Father’s Root Beer. One local Pennsylvania-based beer distributor said, “[Demand is so high,] we can barely keep this stuff in stock.” The success of Not Your Father’s Root Beer will continue to lure in more competition looking to tap into the success of new, hard twists on the old flavors we enjoyed growing up.

2) Robots Are Taking Over

Smartphones led to smart homes and smart everything. The IoT (Internet of Things) continues to grow as more and more of our devices are seamlessly connected – the wine and spirits world included.

In some instances, these devices may know us better than we know ourselves. Next Glass is an app that brings predictive analytics to an individual’s behavior. Its artificial intelligence is able to predict, based on your personal taste preferences, what beer or wine you’ll most likely enjoy. This technology, available in the palm of your hand, will be much more accurate than a bartender or retailer who knows little about your taste preferences. Sure, no technology can completely replace a thought leader’s insight and advice, but personalized predictive analytics like Next Glass will continue to grow in 2016.


Other smart devices are going beyond making recommendations to actually making. Traditionally, at-home cocktails are rare in comparison to on-premise cocktails. This is due to the availability of multiple spirits and mixers, as well as expertise and precision required to get the cocktail “just right.” Start-ups like Stem and Bernooli are looking to change that. With both products, a user manages his or her bar inventory through an app, selects a cocktail recipe from a library, and pours the perfect amount of each ingredient via “smart caps” that are placed on each bottle — ensuring a perfect pour.

3) Alcohol Comes Knocking

We’ve come to expect delivery from most retailers, be it food, clothes or nearly any household item we can imagine. We almost never need to leave the house anymore, so it was only a matter of time before we changed the way we buy wine, spirits and beer.

New retailers and business models, such as Drizly, are popping up that will allow users to order alcohol and have it delivered right to their doorstep. Other third-party businesses rooted in the share economy, such as TaskRabbit, can be used for thirsty people at home that don’t want to leave the house. A few clicks from your smartphone, and you can have alcohol at your door in no time.

So, the next time your customers hear a knock at the door, it may be their alcohol.


  1. Alcohol home delivery is going to be a hard one to pull off. Laws will have to change in order for this to happen in most states. Just the fact that the person taking delivery will have to be of age and prove it electronicly,so as to remove any liability on the seller. The expense that will occur when a non delivered item comes back, because the wrong person was home or no one was home will be a tough one to swallow. Putting alcohol on the road for small delivery will also increase robbery just for the alcohol.


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