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Despite shifting demographics and evolving consumer preferences, the liquor industry had an overall successful 2017.

Spirits, for instance, saw increases in sales and market share gains, as millennials and other adult consumers gravitate toward premium and high-end products.

How can liquor brands maintain this momentum throughout 2018? We have the answer: By keeping an eye on these three pressing liquor industry trends…

Demand for craft, authentic brands grows

It’s no secret that the craft beer market is booming, but expect consumer thirst for these brews to continue ramping up in 2018. Branded messaging around terms like “artisanal,” “hand-selected,” and “super premium” will help companies reach a more discerning audience.

The “craft” trend isn’t isolated to beer companies, either. Consumers increasingly look for spirits that reflect a strong, selective brand message. As Beverage Dynamics noted, brands that are not closely associated with artisanal or craft qualities can tap into a similar sentiment by playing up their long history. Doing so adds an air of authenticity to a liquor brand and suggests that a product has been painstakingly perfected over several decades.

Watch out for IPA fatigue

2018 could be the year that the mighty IPA finally falls back to earth. The U.S.-based craft beer scene has long been driven by consumer preferences for hoppier brews like pale ales. Industry members have predicted an IPA backlash for a while now, but that turn may actually be coming in the immediate future. The growing interest in fruitier variants like New England-style IPAs that downplay bitterness may suggest that craft drinkers are growing tired of hoppy beers.

That’s not to suggest removing IPAs from shelves because they remain incredibly popular, but keep an eye on sales at the local level to stock products accordingly.

Consumers go local

The ongoing trend of beer drinkers seeking out local brands and varieties will continue unabated in 2018. In fact, the demand for locally produced drinks will extend to wine and spirits as well. Liquor companies should consider putting local brands front and center to take advantage of these consumer preferences.

To keep tabs on product performance and determine which SKUs are gaining more traction with consumers across different markets and regions, liquor brands need to gather as much data as possible at the store level. A steady stream of relevant local data will help guide liquor companies toward emerging trends and spot insights that will allow them to stay one step ahead of the competition.

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