The annual market report, which reviews current industry trends and researches key spirit and Champagne categories, has this year discovered the increasingly important role spirits are playing - they are outperforming beer and wine in both off and on-trade channels.
Despite the current economic climate drinkers are looking for quality and innovation when they go out. More than half of spirits drinkers (51 per cent) are on the lookout for new products and more than two-thirds of consumers have said they are willing to pay more for a unique serve.
"As austerity continues to bite, people are drinking on a less regular basis," said Una McCullough, marketing director at First Drinks. "Instead they are willing to trade up to more premium brands to satisfy a need for less but better drinking experiences."
Spirits sale in restaurants and hotels are up but they have fallen in both food and drinks-led pubs.
However one of the biggest surprises to come out of the report is the increasing popularity of premium alcoholic drinks in café bars.
Spirits now account for 32 per cent of total alcohol sales in the UK's 6,000-plus café bars and 50 per cent of those sales are of premium spirits compared to just 45 per cent in the total market.
Key findings for on-trade businesses:
- Spirits is the number two sub-category in on-trade BWS (beers, wines and spirits), up eight per cent.
- Premium spirits are now worth £475m in the on-trade, up 25 per cent
- Vodka remains the most-popular on-trade spirit representing 32 per cent of volume share, down six per cent.
- The biggest on-trade loser in volume share was flavoured vodkas (down 20 per cent), the biggest winner was tequila (up 28 per cent).
- Forty-seven per cent of drinkers want a fun or novelty spirits experience when they go out.
Chris Mason, managing director of First Drinks, said: "As the recession continues to play out, it is important to have an in-depth understanding of consumers and shoppers, their changing habits and how they are adapting. As such, premium suppliers like ourselves need to work hand in hand with on and off-trade retailers to ensure we are delivering tailor-made, creative solutions to satisfy consumers."