tonic water trends

Tonic water's refreshed approach in 2020

08 April, 2021

Beyond bricks, mortar and bytes, consumer trends have been progressing at pace. By design, tonic brands found themselves in the enviable position to feature in a variety.

“There was a phenomenon of a lot of people drinking a lot more at the start of lockdown and after a couple of months of hitting it a bit harder than they otherwise would, either monotony or sense took over, and then we saw quite a big rise in zero per cent and low-alcohol drinks,” says Sarginson.

“It was a story of two halves. People really enjoyed a very much needed drink at the end of a day, but also the low and no occasions really grew. Fortunately, we’re exceptionally well positioned to capture all of those three occasions, be it low, no or the normal old drinking occasion,” adds Ronald.

“We saw occasions where people were still feeling like they were creating that spirit and mixer drink, but without the spirit in there. With the great glassware, ice and garnish but just having the tonic.”


The International Alliance for Responsible Drinking reports that more than one in three adults cut down or stopped drinking altogether during last year’s lockdowns, and according to Globescan, 31% of people say they have made major changes in order to live more healthily.

“The pandemic has definitely heightened awareness of the importance of physical health. Healthier soft drinks and lower sugar content options are set to grow as new legislation and consumer needs grow,” says Donachie.

“Drinking habits are changing as people desire a balance of both wellness and enjoyment, and this has been reflected with an increase in demand for non-alcoholic and light options,” says Bailey. “Premium tonic has definitely stepped in to meet this demand as seen with the emergence of interesting and unique flavours."

This year, many countries are anticipating a return to normality, and a pent-up demand to get back to the on-trade may result in a summer of prosperity for brands. “Everywhere will be full of people, everyone will want to be in a bar or outside,” says Bachert. “It will be the summer of our lives. From a psychological point of view, if the pandemic situation will allow it… people will be going crazy to go out.”

The desire in consumers to go out and enjoy themselves could be a much needed shot in the arm for the on-trade. While at-home drinking has maintained the category, it’s the on-trade where most premium tonic brands have traditionally focused their efforts.

“No matter how great people have got at making drinks at home, the overwhelming majority of those will still not be to the standard of a professional in a bar. The on-trade has the ability to reinvent itself. The on-trade is the ultimate trial hotbed,” says Sarginson.

“We want to be there for all of customers, to support them as much as possible and do everything we can to get them back to running at full speed as quickly as possible,” says Ronald. “As a brand we’re excited about what opportunities lie ahead, we’re very excited about the on-trade reopening, and it’s been fantastic how much the consumer has engaged with spirit and mixer in 2020 and we’re con¦dent that will stay.”

And once normality has been realised, brands will be able to get back to the business at hand before everything was disrupted, namely, world domination. 

“From the worldwide picture, the category still has room to grow. The UK and Spain are absolutely dierent to a country like France. France only really started with gin and tonics about two years ago so there’s a lot of room to grow in some countries,” says Bachert. “In the US also, export there is the future. We try to find the niches, there are countries where there is room for improvement.”

With the on-trade reopening and the category’s position in the growing low and no-abv trends, in 2021, tonic water can have its cake and eat it.

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