Photo by Wyron A

Booze Views: Not another 2019 trends article

It’s crystal-ball-gazing time. What do you mean you’ve only read 28 Biggest trends to look out for in 2019 pieces throughout the month?! All touting blockchain, something influencery and some nonsense about artisan pisco? That’s nowhere your quota for January.

So just in the nick of time before January ends, strap in and come with me on a completely arbitrary journey through a set of predictions grounded roughly 20% in data and logic, 50% in my ad hoc reckoning and 30% in stuff you’ll find at least 119% more entertaining than every other one of these articles…

MORE QUESTIONABLE EXTENSIONS OF IPA

It’s the abbreviation (not acronym) beer marketers love to mess with. Last year it was all about NEIPA (‘N-E-I-P-A?’ ‘Neepa?’ Don’t waste your time.). But DIPA, RIPA, IIPA and BIPA (which has at least three potential meanings at last count) have all played their part in fostering that fuzzy warm feeling of putrid smugness among craft hipsters who bandy them around just desperately hoping you’ll betray your pathetic ignorance by asking what the letters stand for.

Know-it-all bashing aside, it’s the beer market trend that keeps on giving – the people want their IPA, and they want it different. This year will be no exception and there will be yet another year-defining sub-style. Brut was something of a slow burn last year and could see a mainstream boost that will push it to the forefront of 2019, but I’m still waiting to see what this year’s next-big-thing will be in the seemingly saturation-proof world of IPA.

Photo by Jonas Jacobsson

MORE FOCUS ON ENGLISH WINE – BUT NOT EXACTLY MARKET DOMINANCE 

Brexit. Brexit Brexit Brexit. Good, now we’ve addressed that in sufficient depth we can move on. Seriously, it’s still anyone’s guess as to exactly what it’s going to mean for the drinks sector. But there will undoubtedly be a greater focus on home-produced booze, whether that’s simply media guff and publicity stunts rather than genuinely level-headed, reasoned and transparent business decisions (ahem).

The obvious spotlight contender is British wine, and I predict that many will be touting the sleeping giant that is the UK wine industry. An interesting post from online wine shop Vincarta puts this in context – according to the author, countries that produce more wine than the UK currently include Jordan and Malta. Malta is less than half the size of London. Though growth seems an entirely realistic prospect, the reality may not live up to the hype that I reckon is about to come.

Photo by Suda Guan

VOICE TECHNOLOGY WILL HAVE AN IMPACT ON ALCOHOL SALES…

… roughly equivalent to that of a gerbil farting in the Mongolian tundra.

Sorry, couldn’t resist. But if you read enough trends articles you’ll be as sick of hearing about voice as I am. For the best part of two years it’s been second only to blockchain (pahahahaha) as marketing’s favourite white elephant. Let’s draw a line in the sand*: voice tech is great for menial home tasks and, for the vast majority, it’s basically a robot butler whose sole function is to change the radio station.

Where it could have a knock-on impact: increasing listener figures for DAB and streaming platforms could become more attractive for above-the-line spend. But with the attendant regulatory concerns, that’s unlikely to have a huge impact on booze.

*The nice thing about lines in the sand is they’re very easy to brush away…

50-SOMETHINGS WILL RUN RIOT IN A HEDONISTIC 

BACKLASH AGAINST YEARS OF AUSTERITY 

AND THE SOUR-FACED PRIMNESS OF THEIR TEENAGED OFFSPRING

What it says, really. I’ve written before about my thoughts on the marketing world’s youth obsession. And I certainly don’t claim to be a sole outlier in that respect – I wasn’t the first to call bullshit on the frequently black-and-white interpretations of Strauss-Howe, and I sense a genuine turning of the tide this year. If youngsters really are the straight-faced teetotallers they’re made out to be then the obvious money is on their boozehound parents. It’ll be interesting to see if marketing tactics do start to skew any older this year.

Here’s an image of some young people not drinking… POW!

Photo by Zachary Nelson

HOPLESS BEERS

The primary driver will be pure faddism, but there are actually two other factors at play that I reckon make a solid case for this.

Firstly, the trend is also likely to be driven by the ever-increasing environmental awareness that everyone likes to attribute everything to. It’s simple: hops are very, very water-intensive to grow, and there’s growing media interest in that.

And lastly there’s brewing’s constant search for the Next Big Thing. Say what you like about the craft sector’s incessant pursuit of new flavours and trends, it’s created a climate where it’s incumbent on independent brewers to be continually rolling out new products. It’s what we’ve come to expect.

The starry-eyed may laud the spirit of constant exploration; cynics may call it a convenient way of avoiding market saturation. But if craft brewing has shown one thing over recent years, it’s that there’s a seemingly inexhaustible interest in and a market for new beer styles. But, frankly, brewers are running out of material.

Photo by Elevate

My prediction: a wave of hopless beers with a focus on Lithuanian kaimiskas. You read it here first.

Lithuanian farmhouse ales – huge in 2019…

Cheers,

Rich

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