Reshaping the drinks industry with Bacardi

category - alcohol
sector - food & drink
type - opinion
Working with Bacardi Limited, the world’s largest privately held spirits company, The Future Laboratory has produced a new foresight report revealing how recent cultural shifts are reshaping the drinks industry

The global pandemic has had a profound impact on the drinks industry. For consumers, it’s sparked a wealth of new drinking cultures, from Japan’s ‘on-nomi, roughly translated as online drinking, and ‘quarantini’ cocktails made from whatever reserves we have at home, to the rise of what The New York Times refers to as ‘walktails’ – cocktails consumed while walking. We’ve shown ingenuity in adapting to our new-found circumstances. 

The events of last year have also created a desire to experiment, hinting at a wave of post-pandemic hedonism. ‘Last year saw many people practise the art of mixology at home, using what they had on hand to master some classic cocktails,’ says Jacob Briars, head of advocacy at Bacardi. ‘We think in 2021 that knowledge will lead them to experiment more, seeking out new drinks and flavours.’

According to the Bacardi Holiday Survey 2020, this new consumer mindset is already visible, with 20% of customers now keen to sample drinks that they would never have tried pre-lockdown. But with the pandemic also ushering in a new focus on wellbeing and immunity, when consumers are able to re-acquaint themselves with their favourite hospitality venues, drinks brands will need to cater for our uniquely post-pandemic lifestyles. They’ll balance health and hedonism, and flavour and function, helping people to shape their physical and psychological states.

Published by:

10 February 2021

Author: Adam Steel

Image: The Facundo Rum Collection from Bacardi, London



This rise of Functional Elixirs is one case in point, with the global functional beverage market projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.96% between 2020 and 2025 (source: Mordor Intelligence). Immune system-boosting ingredients have come to the fore, providing a way for consumers to feel reassured that they are doing their best to maintain their health.

‘Immunity is one of the hottest topics out there now, and flavours that consumers recognise as immunity-boosting, such as turmeric, elderberry, echinacea, citrus and berry flavours, will perform well with people who are looking for a quick fix in their diet,’ says Alex Massumoto, marketing associate at Synergy Flavors.

Jin Jin cordial, meanwhile, is a brand working to bring the benefits of cultured enzymes to drinks. The cordial uses a traditional fermentation technique from Japan, and combines more than 35 fruits, vegetables and mushrooms as well as lactobacillus – a super-probiotic that defends the body from unwanted bacteria, aids digestion and bolsters nutrient absorption.

Looking ahead, as this marriage of two formerly conflicting attitudes – health and hedonism – continues to develop, it could lead to a raft of new concepts that reshape the drinks industry for good. Whether it’s the rise of Anti-viral Vintners making immune-boosting drinks their niche or Wellness Sommeliers providing advice on the physical and psychological impact of a cocktail, opportunities abound.

While people are concerned with their own personal immunity, it’s also evident that a desire for balance is driving demand for ingredients that benefit the health of the environment too. With the power of science front of mind, in 2021 there will be renewed interest in spirits made in the lab. Spirits-makers will go back to the drawing board, taking a creative approach and using new scientific and technological discoveries to develop new distillation and production processes.

Bespoken Spirits, for instance, uses data science to create bespoke spirits in days from any base spirit without the need for maturation or distilling; the less-impactful process benefits the environment and boasts a mind-blowing 17bn potential combinations to try. Meanwhile, spirits brand Endless West – a group of ‘scientists, sommeliers, writers, chefs, and grad school dropouts creating the next generation of spirits’ – aims to create alcohol without the need for conventional production methods and by using a fraction of the usual resources.

Whether innovating around flavour, function or production processes, what’s clear from the direction of the market is that instead of returning to a new normal, drinks brands are grasping the opportunity to build the next extraordinary. In doing so, they’re giving 2021 its own unique flavour and ensuring that the industry will never look the same again.

Read the full report here.

Our foresight reports are a compelling resource that provide insights for your company internally and help you carve out a distinct viewpoint externally. Find out more here.

‘Immunity is one of the hottest topics out there now, and flavours that consumers recognise as immunity-boosting [...] will perform well with people who are looking for a quick fix in their diet’
Alex Massumoto, marketing associate, Synergy Flavors

Get our weekly newsletter straight to your inbox


Want to learn more about our foresight reports?

Discover how our strategic foresight reports can help you profit from the future by connecting you with the innovators, early adopters and bespoke research making it happen.

Explore our case studies