Anybody in the UK who has an interest in the drinks trade knows that this week was Imbibe and for anyone interested in what is going on industry wide it is a must attend event. There is an argument that the trends that are already happening are here and that those that are on the periphery are not or don’t get noticed but it does certainly highlight where the big brands think the market is heading. So what did we notice and take out of our whistle stop tour of a liquid Olympia…
1. Another year and another raft of gin brands trying their luck in what we thought was an already saturated market. However, we may have missed something here as there is clearly a movement away from brands focusing on straight botanicals to launching liquids with a wider range and more interesting flavours. Could gins go where vodkas have never managed…in the UK
1a Where are all the new and interesting vodka brands? This could well be the next resurgence after a relatively short fall from favour.
2. The continuing resurgence of interesting liqueurs some of which have been forgotten in time and have now been dusted down and spruced up. In this area we think coffee may eventually hit big with the right brand and liquid.
3. On back of craft breweries getting real traction and attention over the last decade it appears to be the turn of craft ciders to whet the appetite. Lots of great looking ciders from small producers who are producing interesting ciders.
4. Some of the most interesting drinks brands weren’t on show which makes us think that the role and influence of Imbibe may be fading under the big brand light.
5. No shortage of people trying their luck at cracking the adult soft drink market but very few brands that cut through with interesting or innovative liquids or insights. While everybody wants to do a Fever Tree that boat has sailed and it will take another great but simple insight buoyed along by a major trend tail wind before we see another one of these.
6. What’s going on at Ribena? It appears to be stuck in adolescence stuck between still being a kid’s brand and an adult one. Neither fish nor fowl. Is this by accident or by design and is it doing itself a disservice by not coming out with a brand new all adults positioning and look and feel. Growing up is not easy but the alternative makes everybody feel a little queasy.
7. What role is technology playing in the drinks industry and how are brands embracing all the great stuff that it can offer. No sign of any of the online drinks retailers but it would be great to see them there and to see what the cutting edge looks like in drinks.
8. Related to the above why don’t any major retailers show up to these shows? Is it that their drinks offer is not up to scratch?
9. Very few, if any whiskies showed up.
10. Finally, and most telling about what it is to be a brand loyalist I spotted this lady with her Sailor Gerry’s tattoo (see picture). Sailor Gerry were nowhere in sight and this just reflects that turning up at the right shows is not what it takes to get people to ink themselves in your honour. Respect Sailor.
In comparison to last year’s Imbibe the show seemed a little smaller and with less diversity of brands and products but that didn’t stop it being well worth a visit to get a sense of what we might expect to happen in the coming year in drinks land.
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