There was a time when there was valuable little selection about which tonic you added to your spirits. However because of the best way Fever-Tree has re-energised the class, now there are numerous young brands wanting to seize a share of the pie.
*This function was originally revealed in the April 2019 edition of The Spirits Enterprise journal.
“Whatever happens with Brexit, at least we can relax in the knowledge that the future of the quintessentially British gin and tonic is secured!” quipped Gavin Partington, director basic at the British Tender Drinks Affiliation (BDSA), in March. His comment adopted the EU’s choice to permit tonic water to proceed buying and selling beneath its traditional identify, following a 4-year investigation into whether or not use of the phrase ‘tonic’ fell foul of EU guidelines designed to stop meals and drink merchandise from suggesting they have health advantages.
Fortunately, widespread sense prevailed and tonic water can proceed its lucrative endeavours and not using a category-wide rebrand. But where Schweppes was as soon as the go-to tonic for each G&T serve, a brand new wave of premium mixers now dominates the scene.
Fever-Tree’s arrival was arguably the best shake-up of the tonic and mixer class in historical past. The model has spearheaded the growth of the premium a part of the market – and outmoded Schweppes’ monopoly. In March, Fever-Tree confirmed its full-year income for 2018 grew 40% to £237.4 million (US$311.8m), boosted by the UK.
“Fever-Tree is built on innovation, and we’re constantly developing new mixers and flavours to pair with the myriad of premium spirits out there,” says Fergus Franks, UK model supervisor, Fever-Tree. “Offering a choice of high-quality mixers to pair with premium spirits is key, and this choice is something that Fever-Tree brought to the previously forgotten mixer category.”
Gareth Jones, UK spirit brand engagement ambassador for Schweppes, Coca Cola, concedes the category was once missed – but Schweppes has since made bold moves to retain its place in the increasingly crowded area. “Having noticed that there was a gap in the Schweppes tonic range for a premium option, in November 2017 we launched Schweppes 1783, a range of naturally flavoured premium mixers that work perfectly to create a range of serves that aim to elevate spirits,” explains Jones. “To some extent, tonic has been the underdog to the gin itself. However, with the increase in flavours and premium offerings in spirits, tonic has become increasingly important to offer consumers choice.”
As the recognition of high-quality tonic waters and mixers grows, new producers are eager to interrupt into the market. Even superstar businessman Lord Alan Sugar is conscious of its worthwhile potential, after investing in startup tonic water producer Buzbee’s Beverages this yr. But whereas tonic’s favourite associate, gin, has managed to thrive in an oversaturated market, is the mixer class capable of following an analogous trajectory?
“The growth of the category has been fantastic,” enthuses Joyce De Haas, cofounder of London’s Double Dutch. “So far, the quality has been outstanding. We are seeing a number of wonderful products entering the market, giving the leaders a run for their money. But there is a fine line between choice and over-saturating the market. As consumers are still learning and experimenting, it’s important to offer a balance between adventurous combinations and classic styles with a unique twist.”
With more rivals in the mixer category than earlier than, shoppers are spoilt for selection. Each brand has its own vary of bizarre flavour mixtures – an unimaginable prospect 5 years in the past. The London Essence Firm is seemingly unfazed by the growing variety of merchandise available on the market, fixing its concentrate on shopper tendencies to “stay ahead of the game”.
“We’re always on the lookout for the next big flavour trend, working closely with world-leading bartenders to see how we can excite people’s palates,” says Ounal Bailey, cofounding father of Wisehead Productions, mother or father agency of The London Essence Company. “It’s always good to offer consumers choice, and the introduction of new premium brands has opened up product variety while offering existing brands healthy competition to spur them on.”
Give attention to well being
While the category’s success correlates to the continued gin growth, Fever-Tree’s Franks believes the rise of the low- and no-alcohol development has additionally performed its half in boosting tonics and mixers. Well being has by no means been so essential for shoppers, notably the youthful generations who are on the lookout for methods to take pleasure in alcohol in a aware means.
“We are seeing consumers turning away from drinking spirits neat, or on ice – this is no longer compatible with modern lifestyles or health and wellbeing,” explains Franks. “There’s a move towards simple, long mixed drinks with high-quality components – a premium spirit, a premium mixer, a fresh garnish and lots of ice.”
It’s a development that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Franklin & Sons, either. The brand’s Flavour Collection has been designed to enrich decrease-abv spirits and give shoppers the “opportunity to experiment further with tonic combinations”. Franklin & Sons’ new dual-flavoured tonic range goals to capitalise on this additional, with flavour mixtures similar to Elderflower and Cucumber Tonic, and Rosemary and Black Olive Tonic.
“With a growing number of participants, the level of competition has increased as brands fight to become the best,” says Jen Draper, advertising director at UK-based mostly agency International Manufacturers, owner of Franklin & Sons. “To be successful, it is important to listen to consumer trends and innovate with trend-leading flavours that are unique.” She also notes that not everybody likes tonic water. “There is still a segment of the market that doesn’t enjoy tonic, and it is important to not forget about these consumers because they are looking for alternative mixers. This is why the Franklin & Sons Flavour Collection has been developed with multi-use in mind.”
Interest has also just lately shifted to dark spirits, a category that mixer producers had previously paid little attention to. Main the best way in this area, again, is Fever-Tree, which last month released a variety of ginger ales designed to pair with dark spirits. The vary includes Smoky Ginger Ale, made for rum; Spiced Orange Ginger Ale, beneficial combined with aged spirits, most notably Cognac and rum; and a low-calorie version of its Premium Ginger Ale.
“G&T consumption is still in strong long- term global growth, but the spirits category is not just about gin, and the mixer category is not just about tonic,” notes Franks. “The same trends are emerging in dark spirits that led to the rise of premium gin consumption. We are the first company to develop a full range of mixers specifically designed to address this opportunity.”
As shoppers develop into more open to experimenting with spirits and mixers, there’s big scope for further innovation in the class. It will undoubtedly deliver with it a number of latest gamers, eager to say their stake in the burgeoning market. Nevertheless, as numbers grow, individuality and quality may even develop into increasingly necessary to the business’s success.
Point of distinction
“The category is still defining itself, and more focus on it is a good thing,” insists De Haas. “The sector continues to be in its instructional part; shoppers are nonetheless being introduced to the significance of the mixer when choosing their drinks.
“There will be a point soon when we are seeing too many brands in the market, and companies will need to ensure they have got a clear point of difference so they don’t over-complicate things for the consumer. As it stands today we are very happy with the amount of competition in the market.”
As the saying goes, a bit wholesome competitors by no means harm anyone – and with regards to tonics and mixers, there are numerous winners to be discovered.
A spirit model’s perspective
With the tonic and mixer class booming, the potential to innovate and increase is vast. One brand eager to spotlight its versatility and mixability additional is Patrón.
The Tequila collaborated with Fever-Tree in 2018 to create a tonic water specifically to enrich Patrón’s signature tonic water and Tequila serve – the Patrónic. The FeverTree Citrus Tonic Water was designed to stability the “sweet citrus and peppery tasting notes of Patrón, thanks to its beautifully balanced blend of specially sourced citrus, including Mexican limes, tangerines and orange bitters”.
However throughout the class, is there sufficient innovation and variety to maintain shoppers excited and prepared to experiment with mixing tonic waters with nontraditional spirits, comparable to Tequila?
“Compared with a few years ago, today bartenders and consumers have many options, from a variety of bespoke mixers for white and dark spirits to those with new and unusual flavours, such as rhubarb and yuzu,” says Matthew Sykes, director of worldwide advertising for Patrón Spirits Worldwide. “Even with all this variety, up until last year there wasn’t a mixer designed specifically for Tequila. With the superpremium Tequila category burgeoning and the extensive range of unique flavour profiles that the Patrón Tequila portfolio offers, there are still possibilities to be unlocked within the mixer category to continue exciting drinkers and showcase the versatility of our product in both the world’s best bars and at home every day.”