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Ginfographic 2019

Written by Gin Foundry

The Ginfographic is much more than a pretty face. It’s more, even, than a quick peak at the drinking habits of Gin lovers. It’s a moment in history, charting the mood of drinkers from year to year and giving us a chance to see where opinion slides on all matters, from price point to saturation point and how the times are changing, stagnating or even - about to explode once more…

We’re leading our Ginfographic analysis with a cocktail question, as it presents a pretty clear picture of who the participants in this survey were. (Q: who? A: a boozy bunch).

On average, how many gin cocktails do you drink per week?

1 or 2:   31%     2 or 3:   28%      4 or 5:   25%     6 to 10:   15%

Regardless of how many fall into each category, the stats show a fair commitment to cocktail consumption as a whole. We ask this question each year not to determine if the rate of consumption is increasing or decreasing, but to get a gauge on the type of person answering the survey.

A good spread across the range, with a majority only drinking once or twice a week is, for the lack of a better term - entirely standard consumption stats. This is great news as it means the insight taken elsewhere isn’t bias towards huge drinkers, or teetotallers. Two thirds of you are sticking to 1/2/3 cocktails a week, with 40% or respondents having more than four Gin based cocktails each week.

On Average, What do you Pay for a Bottle of Gin?

-£20: 4%         £20 – £30: 39%         £30 - £40: 52%      £40+: 5%

Given that the higher and lower ends of the pricing spectrum were almost identical, it’s safe to say that the bulk of Ginfographic participants are big fans of premium (or “craft” if you want to use that term) gins.

Some of the best-selling gins in the country undoubtedly sit at the below £20 mark. Gordon’s, Gordon’s Pink (quite possibly the best selling gin of the last year), Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire can often be found in that bracket… These are the big names in Gin, those that have been around since long before the spirit took off down this new path, yet less than four per cent of those who responded indulge in brands that are, for all intents and purposes, the standard in Gin drinking.

This suggests Gin is more than a habit or an interest to those answering, but something of a hobby. Their collections are things they take pride in and the producers are people they invest in. It also goes to show that despite overlooking the cheaper value offerings and the bigger brand names, £40 remains the cliff edge at which there is a very sudden drop in purchasing - an unwavering figure for the third year in a row.

That’s quite a big statement given the very clear bias away from the cheaper brands. We think that it can be interpreted as the type of consumer answering this is after the premium options, probably look at themselves as enthusiasts as a result, and yet and despite this fact are still not willing to go over that price point often. Brands with offerings over that mark need some serious justification and are, therefore, seldom in the basket.

How Many Different Brands of Gin do you Own at Home?

1 or 2: 9%    2 to 5: 29%    5 to 10: 25%  10 – 30: 22%  30+: 15%

Participants in this survey are undoubtedly Gin fans, but the fact that over 3000 of you answered these questions, combined with the fact that that majority of you are paying upwards of £30 a bottle, makes these answers a bit wild. Many have collections that fall into the hundreds of pounds category, some – if we’re doing a boiling hot take here and putting the 30+ bottle club into the £30 bottle club – creeping towards a thousand. Another thought is that given the consumption rates are on average less than 4 drinks a week - that means that (with a reasonable assertion that their owners will pick and mix), some of those bottles will be on shelf for several years before being polished off.

Interestingly though, while comparing the stats from Ginfographics year on year, the percentage increase towards bigger collections has slowed, with an overall clear three year change of pattern changing from 2 to 5 and favouring the 5 to 10 camp. Those on either extreme end of the stats haven’t shifted much though. This shows, to us at least, that while there are more of you with several gins in the shelf, the need to de-clutter and drink up still rules most households - several gins is fine, but the urge to amass massive collections just isn’t there.

When you order a G&T in a bar, do you expect to be asked which Gin you would like?

Always: 71%       Only in Top End Bars: 28%

Oh what a discerning bunch you are. The shift in these numbers over the years shouldn’t come as too great a surprise. Can you remember the last time you’ve gone into even your worst local boozer and not been offered a choice, albeit even just between Gordon’s and Tanqueray? We certainly can’t.

The ‘Always’ numbers are growing from year to year in the Ginfographic – a sure sign if ever we’ve seen one that bar staff are probably some of the most intuitive among us. Gin is something people are passionate about, be that flavour or story. Whether you want to support a local distillery that you love or just get a fistful of your favourite flavours in your mouth, a whopping 71% of you now expect to be given that choice at all times.

The take home? The challenge has been set for those in the bar trade to deal with that expectation and train staff about how to handle it, whilst also factoring in the time it takes to deliver a drink given any given order now involves a  two way conversation. More knowledge requirements, with longer interaction time makes for a unique set of issues on a busy shift and with the trend only increasing each year - one the industry must adapt to whether they like it or not…

When You Make it on Your Own, What is Your Favourite Ratio for a G&T?

1G – 1T: 11%     1G – 2T: 41%     1G – 3T: 40%     1G – 4T: 8%

1G – 1T: 12%     1G – 2T: 41%     1G – 3T: 38%     1G – 4T: 9%

We’ve delved right back to 2016 when comparing this data, because what’s surprised us the most is a significant lack of change. The rest of the Ginfographic results have jackknifed around from year to year, but on this topic Gin drinkers are akin to old Yorkshire men in the corner of the pub saying “I likes what I like and I know what I know.” The shift is so small as to be insignificant, but surely that’s worthy of remark?

Drinking habits have changed dramatically over the years and in all honesty we would’ve expected the 1 – 1 / 1 – 2 ratio to be growing as drinkers head towards more bitter flavours, tonics are becoming stronger in flavour, gins more nuanced. We expected wrong, it seems… There was some interesting country by country data when we drilled down on this question further, HERE.

Has Gin Reached Peak Saturation Point Yet?

We’ve reached peak gin, but that’s what’s amazing about it: 39%
There’s no such thing as peak gin:  31%
There’s a long way to go before it is over-saturated: 19%
We’ve just reached peak gin and I’m getting bored by it: 8%
It happened a long time a go and I’m looking elsewhere: 2%

Before we get carried away with ourselves, we’ll point you in the direction of our country by country Ginfographic analysis, HERE, which threw up some really interesting data on the perception of Gin. Hint: UK participants were a lot louder on the ‘bored of it’ end of the spectrum (the first time we’ve asked this and had a double digit response). Still, in general this paints a pretty positive picture – 39% of you love the fact we’re at peak, whilst 31% think there’s no such thing, wishfully wanting this Gin train to roll forever.

Allow us, if you will, to layer this with our opinions for a second. We very firmly believe there’s a peak, that’s just being realistic. We believe we’ve been circling close to it in the UK and that there’s an often overlooked disconnect between volumes and perception. Volumes are growing hugely, but perception is shifting differently and towards a more cautious, gin-fatigued place.

The category is just rising once more in the US and entering/ just entered into into a golden era in Australia, having gone through the first full cycle of a revival. Again - those are our opinions, not solely based on the country by country splits, but garnered from being in those countries each year in a Gin promoting / buying / selling / reporting capacity.

Gin is at its highest consumption point in hundreds of years, and while we’re not exactly expecting a recreating of the Hogarth painting, when we combine our informed opinion with some basic logic that trends will always shift- we wouldn’t be surprised if the general public started to get thoroughly fed up with it in the UK soon.

As more non-gin brands try to tap into this popularity (from other spirits, foodstuffs, RTD’s to comedy birthday cards, glassware and, well, supermarket tat), quality will fall and fatigue will set in. Pink, gloopy, glitter-filled, juniper-shy interlopers have already and will continue to make it a hard market to wade through, and unfortunately people are going to start turning their noses up not just at the newcomers, but at the category in general.

While this makes for some depressing reading for fans (and typing for us as massive super nerds whose entire life is soaked in Gin) - fear not. A trimming of the fat is not all bad news as the best always shine through. There’s plenty of amazing things still going on - from ideas, production techniques, branding and design and new and exciting flavours, plenty of countries where the accent of gin is still at a meteoric pace.

There’s a thriving category still very much at its pomp and hundreds of reasons why the future is looking long and interesting but (and it’s a big BUT), the numbers have for the first time all pointed towards the fact that the interest is swinging back towards other spirits in numerous countries once more.

With Gin emerging into so many new frontiers and older styles also re-emerging, which subcategory of Gin would you like to see more of in the next year?

Classic:  33%
Fruit Infused: 18%
Navy Strength: 16%
Barrel Aged: 12%
Old Tom: 11%
Gin based liqueurs: 5%
Genever: 5%

Connecting the dots between these answers and the points we made re: gin over saturation, the call for Classic reads more like a call for some more considered, slower innovation than the race towards the next weird thing. This answer is significantly higher than any of the others, showing a big swing inside a year, where the requests for ‘more of’ anything fell much more evenly in 2018.

The good news here is that while it might seem like it at times - good old juniper-forward gin isn’t exactly in short supply, it just seems that way due to the mainstream press coverage and media attention on the often silly and flippant.

Classic (or even just dry gin) aside, what is fascinating within this - the largest survey on gin we know of done this year - is that there are so few people calling for gin liqueurs. Fruit infused at higher strength was indeed popular, but at only 18% it is a far cry from the headlines stating that section of the category is growing at a 750% year on year would suggest. For such a rate of growth, surely the demand would be much higher amongst core enthusiasts no?

Call us cynics, or perhaps we merely grossly overestimate the power of brand marketing, but the question we would pose based on the sheer amount of liqueurs on the market, is: how much are Gin desires and opinions formed by marketing companies, rather than organically.

We hear that “you can’t fight the market, this is what people want, give them the fru fru pink sweet stuff because it sells” spiel by trade buyers and distillers. We hear it a lot actually, almost every day as people call to pitch in their wares and when in person, often with their hands up as they do it as if looking for a pardon. Given the stats here, though, is the reality may well be that by releasing and creating such a fanfare about NEW gin liqueurs with NEW crazy flavours, GLARINGLY bright colours and rock bottom price points, the market itself is creating the demand in the first place.

If Vogue, Conde Nast, Tatler and Elle all said indigo is the new black having seen the collections of the biggest fashion houses that all point that way, the wider market would move. When AB-InBev, Pernod Ricard, Diageo, William Grant, Groupo Campari, G&J Greenall’s, Beam Sunturi all say flavoured gins (and now Gin based RTD’s) is the new “thing” and that’s being supported by an army headline hungry mainstream publications that shine huge spotlights on it - well, we’ll leave you decide who actually setting the tone for upcoming releases.

Finally, given no one ever wants more Genever (joint last place for the 3rd year running), that’s not a spirit that seems to have made any headway or growth. A change of strategy is needed for those who want a revival there…

Make your own insight on the data by downloading the full Ginfographic 2019.