Tequila and mezcal brands to watch in 2021

21st December, 2020 by Nicola Carruthers

The Tequila and mezcal category is expected to make a swift recovery from the pandemic, boosted by soaring off-trade sales. We predict the brands that will storm to success in 2021.

Despite the challenges of Covid‐19, the Tequila category has been one of the shining stars of the drinks sector, particularly in the US, where off‐trade sales have grown immensely.

In 2019, Tequila and mezcal’s sales reached 39.2m nine‐litre cases but they are predicted to fall by 7% to 36.6m nine‐litre cases this year, according to Eurmonitor International. However, the sector is expected to make a swift recovery and grow by 5.5% to 38.8m cases in 2021, just shy of 2019 levels.

“The Tequila category is on fire as it has seen exponential growth over the past few years,” says Adrian Parker, global vice‐ president of marketing at Patrón Tequila. “When Covid‐19‐related shutdowns came into place, people were quick to switch from the bar to at‐home mixology. As a result, we have seen unprecedented consumer demand in the e‐commerce space, with our digital commerce business growing five times compared with last year.”

Arturo Gajón, global brand manager for Tequila at Brown‐Forman, also notes the strength of the category during the pandemic. “Tequila has proven to be quite resilient,” he says. “It has been adopted more and more by consumers who are celebrating at home. The premiumisation of the category will continue to drive a lot of growth.”

Gajón believes the potential for ready‐to‐drink (RTD) products has “opened opportunities for Tequilas”. He notes Brown‐Forman will “leverage” its brands to get its “fair share in the RTD space”. This year saw Jose Cuervo launch its Tequila‐based Playamar canned seltzer range, while Pretty Little Liars star Shay Mitchell co‐founded Onda, a new canned sparkling Tequila‐based drinks brand. As well as Mitchell, there has been no shortage of stars joining the category including basketball player Lebron James, musician Pitbull and actor Pierce Brosnan.

Another trend Gajón notes is cristalinos, which “seem to be gaining momentum”. Parker says there is still room for innovation when it comes to “experimenting with different types of barrels and ageing periods”. Both he and Gajón also note the ongoing trend for transparency in the category.

Gajón adds that Tequila “remains dynamic” in Colombia and the UK, while South Africa will “get a lot of attention” from Brown‐Forman next year. Parker also highlights “promising trends” in “markets where cocktail culture, Mexican provenance and spirits curiosity are combining to impact drinker preferences”, pointing to China, Australia, Russia, France, Spain and Italy.

Mezcal continues to be a hit in the US, where consumption grew by 40% in 2019, according to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. This year saw Pernod Ricard back the category with an investment in super‐premium brand Ojo de Tigre. The French firm moved into the sector in 2017 when it acquired a majority stake in Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal.

Click through the following pages to see which brands we believe are ones to watch in the year ahead.

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