NEW YORK -- While retail dollar sales of alcoholic beverages packaged in a "pouch" were only $12 million in for the 12-month period through August 2010, pouches approached $200 million in annual sales at Nielsen-measured retail outlets for the 12-month period through Aug. 18, 2012, the company said.
And the trend shows no signs of slowing: 12% of alcoholic-beverage buyers purchased a pouch product in the last 12 months, which is twice the number of people who tried it the previous year. The growth in popularity of this relatively new segment is attracting new product entries, flavors and brands, including many of the biggest supplier names in the alcoholic beverage business, said Nielsen
The alcoholic contents of the pouches vary-- including malt, wine and spirits, depending on the brand--but they all have convenience appeal, according to the Nielsen blog. Many are marketed as a frozen cocktail with no need for a blender: "just freeze, squeeze and serve." Others claim quicker chilling, easy pouring and packaging with environmental benefits.
Not only are pouches ringing up significant sales, but new Nielsen consumer research shows that many of these sales are in addition to current alcoholic beverage sales, meaning that consumers are not switching from more traditional beer, wine or spirits.
These products may be the catalyst for new drinking occasions, including on-the-go events. Research indicates that about 10% of the pouch sales volume comes from buyers new to alcoholic beverages, while about 50% of volume comes from consumers purchasing pouches in addition to other adult beverage categories. The remaining 40% of the dollars come from buyers shifting their purchases from other alcoholic beverages, with spirits being the chief donor, followed in almost equal amounts by beer and wine.
Compared to mainstream (or the typical) alcoholic beverage consumers, pouches seem to appeal to 35-54 year olds, key Gen X and Baby Boomer age groups. African-Americans and females are also buying pouches in above-average quantities, said Nielsen.
Consumers will ultimately decide if pouches are a passing fad or here to stay, but several factors work in this trend's favor:
*As major companies enter the scene, they come fully loaded with all their marketing support dollars to engage with both retailers and consumers.
*New items continue to enter the market-- Nielsen is measuring and reporting nearly 100 pouch items, and that number continues to grow.
*Light-calorie versions are now available, designed to reach consumers concerned with calorie intake.
*Retailers have a constant appetite for something new that generates growth--pouches fit the bill.
*Pouch environmental and convenience benefits appeal to many retailers and consumers.
Nielsen said that as fall and winter approach, it expects efforts to broaden pouch season. Already, companies have launched new Spiced Sangria and Hard Cider pouch varieties, marketed "to be enjoyed warm, in addition to chilled or frozen." Pouch packaging could also become alternative packaging for more mainstream wine and spirit package sizes.
If successful, pouches may have staying power well into the foreseeable future, concluded Nielsen.