Signal Review & New Insights: Airplane Cocktail Kits

Ethan Brooks

The Signal: In October, we told you about the surprising liftoff of airplane cocktail kits -- small packages that allow you to create your favorite cocktails on-the-go. At that time, The Cocktail Box Co. and W&P were the major players in the space, selling their kits for $24 each. The piece became one of our most talked-about Signals, leading to an inspired set of ideas in the Facebook group.

Since Then: Air travel has nose-dived, dropping more than 90% in some areas as countries everywhere have locked down their borders. W&P pivoted, rebranding the carry-on cocktail kit into a line of virtual happy hour kits.

We reached out to Eric Prum, the co-founder of W&P, whose business has boomed as people have begun hosting virtual happy hours. HR teams and office managers are buying kits in bulk, as part of remote team happy hours. While many people are looking forward to the days when they can safely gather in groups at their favorite bars and restaurants, W&P is betting that remote friends will continue coming together for years to come.

Looking Ahead: The W&P pivot proves that a strong product never depends on a single market condition to thrive. People have stopped traveling as much by plane, but their desire for a fun way of mixing up a drink hasn’t gone anywhere. In fact, Beverage Dynamics reported that ready-to-drink cocktails (RTDs) were the biggest trend in 2019. The idea of themed travel-size cocktail kits is still strong, and could be extended to other forms of iconic travel, like trains, boats, or camping.

Camping, in particular, offers many opportunities. According to KOA’s annual Camping Report, many people who have canceled a leisure trip due to COVID-19 plan to replace it with a camping trip. Among prospective new campers, more than 4 in 10 said they were interested in cabin camping. Global searches for "cabin rental" are soaring worldwide with interest highest in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, and the UK. How about a line of cabin cocktails or campfire cocktails tailored to one or more of these audiences?

Thoughtfully Gifts offers a series of cocktail kits named after iconic cities, including the Playa del Carmen Margarita and The New York City Cosmopolitan.

The same thing could be done with cocktail kits named after other things people love, like national parks, their favorite writers (Hemingway loved mojitos), or legendary women who shaped cocktail history (we owe the Manhattan to Winston Churchill’s mom).

You’re not limited to cocktails either. Last year, we reported on the rising buzz around non-alcoholic beer, an industry that’s growing 4x faster than the broader beer market. There are lots of reasons that people might choose not to drink -- age, health, religion, law, etc. -- and mock-tails (non-alcoholic cocktails) can be a fun alternative for those who still wish to socialize. Consider a brand of non-alcoholic drink kits designed specifically for those who live in areas with strict alcohol laws, like Egypt, or for those who are abstaining for important health reasons, like expecting mothers.

There are also other quarantine beverage trends like Dalgona Coffee (which we reported on here) that are extremely popular, and whose ingredients could easily be turned into a kit. One thing’s for sure: With everything we’re going through this year, we could all use a drink.

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