Christmas gin: top trends this year

Brands and retailers have been busy innovating their festive spirits ranges, trying to find the perfect formula for the festive season. Gin continues to be a favourite tipple, especially for gifts and something to impress guests with.

We wanted to examine a few trends in festive gin this year. In order to initially filter down the plethora of options on the market, we ran two multi-option steers, randomly separating our selection of 12 Christmas gin products into two groups. The steers were only shown to people who consume alcohol at least once a month.

Our selection represents both a variety of flavours and some unique designs of liquid and packaging. The top three options in the first steer along with the top two in the second made it into our selection of best five, each winning over 68% of alcohol consumers’ votes. The very top option among them is the Snow Globe – a new offering from Marks & Spencer, described by the retailer as “the gift of the season”. The liquid features edible 23 carat gold leaf pieces “so that when the bottle is turned, the pieces float and create a sparkly snow globe”. It seems, however, that simply containing gold flakes doesn’t guarantee a top market success. With under 67% of votes, Il Gusto Sparkling 22ct Gold flake gin, marketed by Selfriges as a “theatre of taste”, couldn’t make it to our top five.

Our runner up aims to provide a unique experience using a different method. The colour changing Christmas gin was launched last year by The Old Curiosity Distillery and brought back this year after initial success. The liquid is infused with mallow petals to provide a distinctive festive colour, which transforms to a vibrant pink when mixed with tonic water, thus positioned as a Christmas party showstopper.

The remaining three products in our top five stand out thanks to special flavours. The best performer among them turned out to be the Spiced Apple & Winter Berry Gin as seen in Aldi’s own brand line-up. Aldi’s customers are describing it as a very pleasant, easy drink for the colder winter nights. The remaining two flavours are the rather sweet Candy Cane and Toasted Marshmallow.

Intrigued to understand consumer preferences better, we ran a couple of further tests with the top five Christmas gins. Firstly, we ran a preference steer, targeting alcohol consumers only, asking which option they would choose. A preference steer shows three options at a time in every possible combination, and reports both exclusive and all preferences (including non-exclusive choices). Below are the exclusive preference results, where consumers chose the same option every time it  was offered:

The option which most consistently attracts drinkers is the Toasted Marshmallow Gin Liqueur – our least successful gin in the multi-option top five. When provided with more than one choice, consumers treat some of the products as nice-to-have and include them in their selection. Forcing a single choice can reveal different attitudes.

The preference steer results highlight that pink gin is on top of its game, keeping its strong position during this Christmas season. In flavour, sweet and nostalgic blends seem to be a topic. Despite being part of Asda’s Christmas gin range, the Toasted Marshmallow gin liqueur could potentially be sought after around other occasions.

Finally, we ran another preference steer with the same five gins, however, this time we launched it to both drinkers and non-drinkers, asking them which option they would buy for a present. Here are the exclusive preference results:

A key take-out is that Christmas gin is a popular present with only around a fifth of consumers rejecting it. Some consumers have different priorities when shopping for a present. Toasted Marshmallow is still a top choice but now it is seriously outperformed by the Snow Globe. Below is a comparison between the results from the two preference steers:

Based on this, we think that M&S’s Snow Globe will enjoy great success this Christmas. Shoppers will mostly buy it for a present but many won’t resist the temptation to take it home and perhaps share it with friends and family. Marshmallow flavoured pink gins will be preferred for own consumption but their potential as a gifting option should not be underestimated.

Vypr has the tools to reveal consumer trends, valuable for retailers. A good understanding of shoppers’ behaviour can optimise product positioning and support successful retail strategy.