Ready-to-drink brands continue to innovate in order to serve consumer trends, which means category lines are constantly blurring and new practical considerations must be made. In the first presentation from our panel on Reclassifying Ready-To-Drink, Heather Boyd, Managing Director of U.S. RTD at Beam Suntory broke down the major players and innovations driving the RTD segment and how emerging brands can navigate new hot spots for litigation.
“Depending on the base, you can be regulated by the FDA or TTB and their regulations aren’t necessarily consistent,” said Boyd. “And it hasn’t necessarily caught up to what we’ve seen from a consumer litigation standpoint, where oftentimes you can be completely compliant within your regulatory realm, but consumers can be calling you out on transparency.”
Britt West, Vice President of Spirits at E&J Gallo, followed by projecting the aspects of RTDs that will influence the acceleration of the U.S. spirits market. West explained how the spirits category can catapult its anticipated growth into a dominant market share. West revealed that market and wholesaler access will be key to the category’s advancement and how RTDs are opening new doors for spirits.
“Don’t make the argument about taxes, make the argument about access,” suggested West. “Because when we get access right we do things that are good for brands, we do things that are good for state revenue, and we do things that are good for our consumers.”
In his presentation, Tony Gaines, CEO of Stewarts Enterprises, traced the RTD explosion from its roots into the present. He explained how the origins of this trend translate to innovating a popular RTD product in the modern market. Gaines covers the key statistics to know about the categories growth and trends driving the segment, while also providing a glimpse into how Stewart’s Enterprises leveraged Hard Rock Cafe’s brand identity into RTD products that perform well at retail.
“As you see, competitiveness is getting harder now,” noted Gaines. “You’ve got Coke, Pepsi getting into the business and other ‘non-traditionals’, if you will, getting into the business. So it’s going to get bigger and become more of a beverage category as opposed to just a spirits, wine, and beer category.”
Joey Mintz, Co-Founder of Siponey, closed out the panel by discussing how his RTD brand found success by mirroring consumer driven trends. Mintz explained how Siponey went about differentiating themselves in the early days of the RTD craze. He noted that the key was his brand’s special attention to quality ingredients and transparent advertising.
“We are just focusing on a small amount of SKUs because we think that’s what the consumer wants,” said Mintz. “We know it’s important to have unique recipes so the two SKUs we have right now are not something you can get in a can from anyone else. This is only that we have made and we think that’s most interesting to consumers, as well.