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Impact Databank: U.S. Spirits Market Slows Overall, But Premium Brands Thrive

October 7, 2020

Distilled spirits are on pace to outperform the beer and wine categories for the ninth consecutive year in 2020, although momentum is expected to keep decelerating, according to The U.S. Spirits Market: Shanken’s Impact Databank Review & Forecast, 2020 Edition. The spirits market will also register its 25th consecutive annual volume increase this year, with an estimated gain of 2.1% to 241.5 million 9-liter cases, as stocking up due to the Covid-19 pandemic has bolstered the off-premise sector. Still, those off-premise gains won’t be enough to offset on-premise losses amid the crisis and depressed economy, and retail dollar value for the total spirits industry is expected to decline slightly in 2020.

High-end labels continue to fuel spirits market growth, with super-premium brands ($25 and above a 750-ml.) expected to post further impressive gains moving forward, particularly Tequila, Cognac, and flavored whiskies. Bourbon, Irish whiskey, and single malt Scotch whisky have also recorded significant increases recently. Imported spirits overall crested 100 million cases for the first time last year, according to the 297-page report. Luxury-priced Hennessy Cognac is expected to surpass 4 million cases for the first time in 2020. Among other luxury spirits (above $35 a 750-ml.), two Tequila brands, Patrón and Don Julio, are also expected to continue easily outperforming the overall market.

Other stellar-performing labels include Jameson Irish whiskey, which by year-end will have achieved 25 consecutive annual gains, more than any other million-case brand. Including flavors, Crown Royal Canadian whisky leads all spirits brands in the U.S. market by retail dollars and surpassed the $2 billion mark last year, according to Impact Databank. Among premium-priced spirits ($15-$25 a 750-ml.), Tito’s vodka from Fifth Generation Inc. is expected to become the nation’s largest-selling brand by volume in 2020, ahead of Smirnoff vodka, which had been No.-1 for the past 13 years.

Looking ahead, the recession and lingering negative impact of the pandemic, as well as fierce competition from other drinks sectors—mainly hard seltzer—will cause overall spirits market growth to keep slowing until at least 2025. For more information and to purchase The U.S. Spirits Market: Impact Databank Review & Forecast, 2020 Edition, as well as other exclusive Shanken reports and publications, visit impactdatabank.com.—Natalia Razzo


Top 5 Super-Premium Spirits Brands In The U.S.: 2020 Projections1
(millions of 9-liter cases)
Rank2 Brand Company Type 2015 2020E AACGR3
1 Crown Royal4 Diageo North America Canadian Whisky 5.4 7.1 5.5%
2 Hennessy Moët Hennessy USA Cognac 3.0 4.2 6.5%
3 Jameson Pernod Ricard USA Irish Whiskey 2.4 3.9 10.1%
4 Patrón Bacardi USA Tequila 2.1 2.2 1.6%
5 Johnnie Walker Diageo North America Scotch Whisky 1.7 1.8 1.0%
Total Top Five5 14.7 19.2 5.5%
1 $25 & over a 750-ml.
2 Based on 2020E retail dollars.
3 Average annual compound growth rate.
4 Includes flavors.
5 Addition of columns may not agree due to rounding.

Source: IMPACT DATABANK © 2020

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