Gone are the days of overly sugary, bottom-shelf ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails, and we’ll raise a glass to that. Way back, these drinks offered convenience (and a load of preservatives) but not much in the way of flavour or craft. Due in some part to the seltzer boom, the category has evolved, but also grown—in 2020, it was up 43% in global consumption with a forecast of a nearly 22% jump over the next four years. If you’re looking to dominate this flourishing market you’ll need to make your product stand out. Read on to find out how we can help you #owntheshelf and generate buzz on social media.

A New Generation of Ready-to-Drink Products

Originally, the appeal of RTD cocktails was convenience and portability, with ingredients and taste taking a back seat. Not surprisingly, younger drinkers were among the first loyal consumers and while they’re still a driving force in the market (White Claw, anyone?), there’s an emerging trend to premiumization. These beverages aren’t competing with the RTD versions of the spirit lines of established brands (think Smirnoff Ice or Mike’s Hard Lemonade) but rather finding their own market position. There’s no stronger evidence than the entry of craft brands into the ready-to-drink space.

Craft distilleries are known for small batches, experimentation, and quality products. This applies to RTDs as much as beers, as evidenced by the innovative vodka-infused Zen Kombucha or the award-winning Georgian Bay Gin Smash. Products like these are often made with the distillers’ own signature gin or vodka, and frequently include local ingredients or botanicals, creating more herbaceous and complex pre-mixed options. These releases tap into a wider trend of twists on classic served with unusual or exotic ingredients.

Additionally, these beverages offer options to consumers with aversion to wheat, barley, and gluten. Producers are creating cocktails with alternative alcohol sources, and in some cases, entirely without malt, while fermented cane sugar can offer a gluten-free base.

An Instgrammable Opportunity

All this innovation in the RTD space has given rise to a stylish but approachable aesthetic featuring bright, eye-catching colours, simple designs, and slender cans. This look brands RTDs as accessible while also making them appear more premium than soda or beer products.

Savvy brands don’t underestimate how important the portable nature of RTDs is and design accordingly. Canned and bottled formats allow consumers to drink complex cocktails at the beach or at festivals with minimal fuss, so if drink makers get the design of their brands right, they’re extremely likely to be photographed by consumers in aspirational settings and posted to platforms like Instagram. This is priceless promotion, particularly among millennials.

Ready to Package Your Ready-to-Drink?

Your packaging has to capture the attention of your customers. We can help make that happen, starting with the substrate. Choose from white, clear or metallic options, or use our sustainable forest film. Aquashield, a paper product, gets you a premium look and feel.  We recommend going easy on the embellishments for a stylish look and to keep costs down but the right effect can really make your packaging pop. Flexibility with small runs means you can go to press more frequently—perfect for limited batches—and leverage the power of variable content. Want to tie your beverage to a certain holiday, personalize packaging, or release a limited edition? You can play with your design and content, with or without the help of our expert design team.

Ready to get started? Contact us to find out how to make your RTD beverages #owntheshelf.

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