MARCH 18TH, 2020

The premixed cocktail category is seeing a flurry of activity.

Novo Fogo boasts a portfolio of prepackaged cocktails including Lime Sparkling Caipirinha, Passion Fruit, and Mango

“Cocktail culture has permeated many audiences, beyond the drinkers who frequent cocktail bars in the leading markets,” says Dragos Axinte, founder and CEO of Novo Fogo, which produces cachaça and canned Caipirinha cocktails. “We’re seeing it grow in small towns, restaurants, and homes—the sign of a long path ahead. But wanting to serve or drink an amazing cocktail and actually making one aren’t the same thing, so there have been a lot of barriers for consumers and casual bars that aren’t equipped with the knowledge and tools to crank out perfectly balanced cocktails.”

“The key to success will be the continued elevation of quality of these drinks, otherwise the category will fall flat as consumers have too many bad experiences,” Novo Fogo’s Axinte says. In 2017, Novo Fogo introduced a Lime Sparkling Caipirinha to the market, and in June 2019 the company released a new recipe and packaging for the cocktail, as well as two new flavors, Passion Fruit and Mango—all made with 100% natural ingredients and available in 200-ml. cans ($3). “Our 2019 releases reflect our understanding of where our consumers’ palates were heading,” Axinte says. “We dialed down our sugar and alcohol content to make slightly drier, yet balanced, cocktails—the kind of drinks you can enjoy in succession, straight from the can.”

Novo Fogo’s Axinte asserts that most prepackaged cocktails on the market right now are simply not good quality. “They’re made by companies whose fear of missing out drives their market planning and who take shortcuts in development, planning, and strategy,” he explains. “It’s one thing to put out a product and another to see it sell day in and day out; the hotness of the category has enabled many lesser players to get shelf space, but they’ll find that their products will not be re-ordered after poor consumer experiences. We predict that this may happen to as many as half of the RTD brands currently on the market by the end of 2020.”

Axinte adds that the future looks bright for the high-quality, craft RTD segment. “I’ll relay an observation that I think speaks volumes for where the category is going: Novo Fogo Sparkling Caipirinhas are on the shelves of Target stores in a number of states,” he says. “The fact that an independent producer of Brazilian spirits can be found among the more recognizable alcoholic beverages on the shelf of a big-box store shows that consumers are becoming more sophisticated and globally curious in their cocktail choices.”

Mixology To Go
Market Watch | MARCH 18TH, 2020