Are consumers raising the ‘bar’ when it comes to tequila?

Jazmine Duncan, Strategic Content Manager
May 24, 2022

Yes. Our dashboard has detected an increase in tequila consumption, but not just any tequila - premium tequila. The category is shifting away from its connotation as a ‘cheap party shot’ towards a more premium ‘sip and savour’ drink, and there’s a real opportunity for brands to embody this premiumisation. 

Read this next: Tequila won’t fix everything but it’s worth a shot

Out with the shot, in with the sip

Traditionally, tequila is seen as a ‘party shot’ and many bars still serve the drink with salt and lime. However, the category needs to move away from this perception in order to win in the premium space. Attitudes towards spirits among our younger consumers are changing, and the concept of ‘shots’ is becoming increasingly old-fashioned. The ‘cheap and quick’ mentality is being replaced with a desire for a more premium experience that can be enjoyed over a longer period of time. We’re seeing this come to life in the tequila category, as today’s tequila drinkers are driven by the quality and trustworthiness of brands, as opposed to the price. 

*Based on Streetbees data in MX, the UK and the US. 

Tequila has a lot to offer in the premium space, including provenance, versatility, and flavour. As a result, the category is leaving behind its perception as a ‘party shot’ and is starting to be appreciated for its unique taste and high quality. For example, 39% of our tequila-drinking bees currently enjoy the drink when they’re relaxing (i129), compared to only 11% who opt for tequila when partying or celebrating (i109). 

Let’s look at the driving demand space behind tequila drinking moments to help you position your brand. 

Take action with the right demand spaces 

From our 4.5 million bees, who are constantly sharing their real-time habits and attitudes with us, we’ve found that the ‘Lift My Spirits’ demand space over-indexes here - a space which has grown steadily since Q1 2021. This is a social evening occasion, where consumers are looking for a drink that not only tastes good, but also makes them feel good.

When it comes to the drink of choice in this occasion, beer and wine were on equal footing at the beginning of 2021. However, over the past 12 months, spirit consumption has risen and spirits now outperform wine in this space. 

*Based on Streetbees data in BR, CN, FR, DE, ID, MX, RU, TR, the UK and the US.

So how can you grow your tequila brand here?

1. Win in relaxing occasions through premium variants

There’s an emerging relaxation occasion in the tequila category, as more consumers are discovering how smooth and calming the drink can be when sipped. In fact, the proportion of our bees who feel relaxed/calm when drinking tequila jumped from 14% in Q1 to 23% in Q4. This shift in mood, paired with a greater appreciation for the origin and the ageing process of tequila, presents a real opportunity for premiumisation. 

Consider repositioning your brand to win in these relaxed occasions through premium variants. Highlight the bottling process e.g. specially crafted to be slowly savoured, and the origin e.g. only produced in Mexico, to hit the ‘quality brand’ and ‘trusted brand’ drivers. 

*Based on Streetbees data in MX, the UK and the US.

Brand spotlights - ‘it was worth a shot’

El Rayo Tequila has crafted a 100% agave tequila, which has been designed to mix with tonic and aims to ‘turn tequila into your first drink, not your last’.  

​​​​​​ Diageo is launching Astral Tequila in the US, a premium tequila crafted with 100% blue weber agave, following 79% growth in its global tequila business in 2021. 

2. Leverage playfulness to help consumers reconnect

Our data also shows that tequila is particularly popular in social moments and is strongly associated with ‘fun’ and ‘spontaneity’. In fact, we’ve seen positive moods when drinking tequila grow over the past 12 months. The proportion of tequila drinkers who feel great/amazing in the moment of consumption rose from 22% in Q1 to 27% in Q4, while the proportion who feel excited rose from 2% to 12% in the same time period. 

Leverage playfulness to help consumers rediscover and reconnect with their social lives. Tequila is associated with friendship, authenticity and a free spirit, so champion ‘living in the moment’ and ‘conversations with good company’ in your positioning. 

*Based on Streetbees data in MX, the UK and the US. 

Brand spotlights - ‘you’re such a free spirit’

Jose Cuervo created a playful video for their new Playamar tequila seltzers, which features friends socialising on a beach in the sun. 

​​​​​​ Patron has created a digital Cocktail Lab experience, which features a playful quiz to help you find your perfect tequila cocktail.


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