The Comeback of RTDs

Christmas is coming and bringing with it, plenty of opportunities to pack out your venues. Everyone will soon be in the “Christmas Spirit” so now is the time to start planning what you are going to do to ensure that your bar is the place to be this festive season. And what is going to influence a punter’s mind more than the choice of drinks you offer!?

Last issue we brought our focus group together to taste a range of RTDs. When you think of RTDs, it may bring to mind alcopops that adorn late-night student venues; but nowadays there’s more to them than meets the eye.

Once in almost unthinkable decline, RTDs have slowly started to reinstate their dominance amongst consumers, slowing decline from -11% in 2016 to -9% in the on-trade in 2017. Thanks, in part, to innovation by companies such as Global Brands, the future now looks brighter for this flagship sector. A big factor in the steady return of RTDs could be the evolution from the stereotype of “student’s drink” to the recent offering of new and revolutionary flavours that really pack a punch.

I spoke with Jennifer Draper who is Global Brands’ Head of Marketing about their flagship brand, VK. Jennifer said “VK Blue is now the best-performing ‘traditional’ RTD in the on-trade, growing +7%. To support this rise, we also provide fruity flavours such as Strawberry & Lime and Orange & Passionfruit which has really helped lift the RTD category.”

With competition high in the on-trade, it’s important that pubs and bars invest in products that sell, especially over the busier periods. As the fastest growing RTD in the on-trade, facts and figures prove that VK is sure to produce revenue for bars and pubs.

I also spoke with Jennifer about Global Brands’ other RTD, Hooch, which is reinventing itself towards the festival sector and is a common sight at some of the UK’s biggest events. Jennifer said “With the recent success of VK, it was clear to see that there is still a high consumer demand for RTDs so we created a variety of new flavours for Hooch too. Our most popular, Hoola Hooch (a passionfruit and mango alcoholic juice), has helped underpin the reinvention of the RTD sector.”

If your bar is popular for cocktails or you are looking to break into that market, RTD cocktails could be the route to go down. With cocktails becoming ever more popular, the only real downside is how long they take to make, meaning your customers will all have to queue longer. RTD cocktails totally eliminate this problem and cut down on waiting and service time hugely. Global Brands created London Road hand crafted cocktails which have become a staple in late night venues. London Road cocktails are served in jars and come in a tantalising range of flavours. Stocking these not only means that your customers are served quicker, you are also guaranteed the same high-quality drink every single time and making life easier for bar managers by removing the need for extensive – and costly – training. Consider the space you’ll save in storing ingredients and RTD cocktails are a no-brainer in my opinion!

RTDs are the almost-forgotten-about drink that have the potential to be the staple of your punters’ nights out. Popularity with customers being an obvious benefit of stocking RTDs, they are also extremely easy for bar staff to serve, so cut down waiting and service time too. The future of RTDs looks bright. As mentioned above, the decline has slowed over the last two years, with research and insight into the sector predicting that with continual innovation and awareness surrounding these drinks, RTDs will continue to grow and appeal to a broad demographic. The continued RTD growth now means they are worth £229m in the on-trade alone.