Lessons from rosé: What spirits brands can learn from rosé’s success

Rosé remains one of the most potent and far-reaching trends within the wine category. Its growth drivers are impactful reminders of how other alcohol categories can boost market penetration.


Rosé remains one of the most potent and far-reaching trends within the wine category. From markets as diverse as the US, Paraguay, China and Namibia, millennials and first-time wine drinkers have been flocking towards a market segment that represents a carefree lifestyle, positive summer vibes and a taste of affordable luxury.

Dan Mettyear, IWSR’s Research Director for Wine, shares his views on what has worked particularly well for the rosé category, and how spirits brands can follow in the success.


Rosé has benefited from its positioning as a gender-neutral beverage

“Rosé has greatly benefited from its positioning as a gender-neutral beverage, which opens the door to more occasions and consumers, such as brunch,” notes Mettyear. In South Africa, for example, wine brands have pivoted their marketing strategies to appeal to both genders, with a more recent emphasis on the market potential of female drinkers.

Not only has it become more acceptable for women to drink among themselves, but they are also exerting increasing influence over the drink choices of their male counterparts in South Africa and neighbouring countries. Mettyear adds, “wine was the category to really break through, with Distell’s 4th Street leading the way. Across Southern Africa, natural sweet rosés offer a sweet, easy drinking style that appeals to the modern African woman, as well as being an aspirational, yet affordable entry-level wine.”

This is a trend that other categories, such as hard seltzers, or alcoholic sparkling waters, have capitalised on as well. In fact, within six years, the category has grown to account for nearly half of all US mixed drinks (defined as all ready-to-go beverages, including FABs and FMBs), and the IWSR projects the category to continue to grow over the next 5 years.


Rosé appeals to lighter, carefree drinking occasions, with packaging options to match

“As the rosé trend has developed over the past few years, consumers have now signalled a clear desire for lighter, Provençal-style rosés, which have come to embody the vibrant summertime moments that have characterised the movement,” remarks Mettyear. Indeed, exports of Provençal wine have increased at an average of 28% a year over the past five years.

Millennials, especially, drive a culture where everyday celebrations are valued, and its traction in social media, spawning the “rosé all day” phrase, for example, has further boosted its staying power. Packaging innovation, particularly non-glass options such as small-format cartons or canned wines, appeal to the environmentally conscious millennial, but also to occasion-based drinking, such as music festivals, outdoor activities and sporting events.

Chanmé Frosé is an example of a brand whose launch of ready-to-drink premium frozen rosé (frosé) pouches are focused on portability and easy drinking vibes.


Rosé is influential in cross-category innovations

Mettyear notes, “rosé’s ability to influence cross-category innovations, such as rosé being used as a flavour in vodka or cider, increases its market penetration and staying power.” Angry Orchard, a New York-based cider brand, for example, launched a rosé cider whose canned format is designed to pair with summertime events as well. Meanwhile, Beam Suntory has expanded its Effen Vodka range with the launch of Effen Rosé, bringing together the vodka and rosé categories to create a crisp and clean flavour profile. California’s Firestone Walker Brewing Company has launched a beer-rosé hybrid, offering consumers an easy-drinking beer with wine qualities, sold in a canned format.

Rosé’s ability to brand itself as a gender-neutral, light-drinking option has served to increase its staying power. Product and packaging innovation have helped it appeal to a wider base of consumers as well. For Mettyear, “these growth drivers are in line with the global trends that the IWSR has been tracking as well, and are impactful reminders of how other alcohol categories can boost market penetration.”


You may also be interested in reading:

Changing millennial preferences drive packaging innovation and on-site experiences at US wineries

Eco-Packaging Trends Across Spirits, Wine and Beer


To stay ahead of market trends and analysis, subscribe to receive our Industry Insights directly to your inbox.

Sign up to receive IWSR's Industry Insights

Stay in the front

Get report updates, latest news and industry insights straight into your inbox