Picture2 - I want it now

How the “Instant” trend is changing how we eat and drink

Imagine a future where alcohol is almost instantly available. At the touch of a button, or just a short journey from where you live, at any time of the day or night.

It’s a future that already exists in most developed markets. British people can recall a time when sales of beers, wines and spirits were restricted to specialist stores, open within fiercely regulated hours. Now it’s hard to find a shopping parade in the UK where there isn’t a choice of retailers with some sort of alcohol offer. There is still an element of regulation, but by and large anyone living in the UK – and most other Western markets – can access their favourite tipple very quickly.

This doesn’t mean that we’ve developed ferocious drinking habits. It’s just that we’ve grown increasingly used to making quick decisions in our hectic lives, and expecting fast results. No more trekking to the video store to reserve a copy of the latest blockbuster: we can download it in seconds. Our favourite food can be delivered to our door within minutes. We can chat face to face with faraway friends and relatives with a couple of swipes of a smartphone or tablet.

Our Consumer Trends Report 2015 goes into more detail about this trend, which we call “Instant”. In the alcohol category, consumers clearly want quick and easy availability in the retail sector, whether that’s in shops, the on-premise sector or online. But many consumers want even more instant gratification than this.

Single-serve packaging is increasingly commonplace; ready-mixed spirits and cocktails are improving all the time; and there are various preservation devices that allow wine lovers to enjoy a glass on demand without compromising the wine that remains in the bottle.

The alcohol industry has a fine line to tread here. It’s in nobody’s interests to encourage higher consumption, but if consumers are demanding small regular treats instead of indulging in a weekend binge, maybe that’s a good thing. One thing’s for sure: our lives are unlikely to get less frenzied any time soon. Marketers in every product category need to understand the Instant trend, and respond with solutions that suit the needs of a time-compressed 21st century.

Author: Graham Holter

Email: Graham@wineintelligence.com