Monday, the Coca-Cola Co. and the Brown-Forman Corp. announced “a global relationship to debut the iconic Jack & Coke cocktail as a branded, ready-to-drink premixed cocktail option.”

The launch will start in Mexico later this year, and expand to global markets. The drink will have an alcohol beverage volume of 5%, with some variation depending on the market.

Drinking and the pandemic

Researchers are still examining what impacts the pandemic had on the drinking behaviors of U.S. adults. According to collaborative analysis, lockdowns led to reduced consumption of alcohol countrywide, but an increase in binge-drinking behaviors.

Public health is expected to suffer due to this change, though the magnitude is unknown. The analysis also predicts a 4% shrink in the alcohol market, which has undergone significant changes as Gen Z consumers push companies to offer more hard seltzers and ready-to-drink beverages.

Brown-Forman Corp./The Coca-Cola Co.

Trends in consumption

The ready-to-drink sector has seen 43% global growth in 2020, according to IWSR, and is expected to continue with 21.8% compound growth through 2024. It is the only market that has seen growth, as the overall alcohol market shrank.

Younger consumers seem to be shifting toward drinks that are suited to off-premise consumption (gaining in popularity during lockdown), and desire drinks that appear more health-conscious. Rising trends in zero-sugar, zero-carbs and zero-calorie drinks demonstrate this trend.

Some see this as troubling; the differences between nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages are becoming more subtle. Others view the increased options as a positive, giving voice to more health-conscious alcohol consumers.

Local and niche drink manufacturers will have to contend with new offerings by large corporations, fighting for market share in a competitive landscape.

Giants entering the arena

Coca-Cola is making aggressive moves into the ready-to-drink beverage market. The Jack & Coke collaboration follows a nationwide June 6 launch of Simply Spiked Lemonade. Fresca Mixed, in partnership with Constellation Brands, will launch by the end of 2022 as well.

Molson Coors, a collaborator with Coca-Cola on the Simply products, launched its Topo Chico hard seltzer last year. PepsiCo, alongside The Boston Beer Co., released Hard Mtn Dew with zero sugar at the beginning of this year, also taking advantage of the ready-to-drink trend.