2023 Fan Favourite & Gaining in Popularity Brand Award winners revealed

2023 Fan Favourite & Gaining in Popularity Brand Award winners revealed

August 11, 2023
Melissa Parker

Last night's eleventh annual Australian Drinks Awards was an evening of branding success stories as The Drinks Association presented Australian producers and suppliers with 41 consumer-rated brand awards held at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth.

Research carried out on behalf of Thrive Insights via a survey of over 4,000 target consumers between 18 and 59 years of age determined the winners. Judged into two categories, Fan Favourite and Gaining in Popularity, consumers responded with what alcohol brands they purchased in the past month and why.

Thrive Insights' Director, Chris Papadimitriou, shared this year's consumer behaviour trends.

"Whilst iconic brands continue dominating the Fan Favourite landscape, drinkers seek out new, interesting products. We see this through the Gaining in Popularity award, with some exciting brands standing out. Smaller brewers with distinctive offerings have also taken out awards across categories."

“Japanese beverage brands remain highly desirable, with brands from Japan winning awards in beer and spirits."

He added: "The non-alcoholic category continues to show strong growth with younger and older drinkers embracing zero alcohol options. With increased competition, there has been exciting innovation across non-alcoholic beverages, focusing on delivering on taste and drinking experience."

The top 200 drinks brands identified by key retailer ranging and/or wholesaler withdrawal data are included in the competition results.

The detailed annual Brand Health Report from Thrive is available for purchase, helping to gain a better understanding of your brands’ health with YOY data now also on offer.

The key brand health metrics used are:

  • Awareness
  • Trial
  • Drink regularly
  • Most often brand
  • Favourite brand

The data is available by category with discounts for multiple categories. Contact Marketing Manager Kylie Le Lievre for further information.

Fan Favourite Awards

The Fan Favourite Award takes the highest weighted overall score across brand awareness and consumption. Thrive ask consumers about brand awareness, brand trialling, what they drink regularly and what they like to be seen drinking, including their favourite brand and brands they most often engage with. The winner is the brand perceived to gain the most in popularity last year. Five new brand categories joined the Awards list this year, including Non-Alcoholic Beer, Spirit, Wine and RTD and Seltzer.

Mr Papadimitriou said: " The Fan Favourite Award is highly prestigious, encapsulating brand and loyalty metrics across Beer, Cider, Wine, Spirits and RTDs. To be crowned a winner here, you are truly an iconic brand in your category."

Circana is this year's sponsor of the Fan Favourite Awards. Circana’s Chelsey Peace said, “We understand the importance of consumer preference. We are thrilled to sponsor the Brand Awards Fan Favourite category at the Australian Drinks Awards, celebrating the brands that have captured the hearts of Australian consumers. The Australian Drinks Awards - Fan Favourite category is a true reflection of the consumers' choices."

"Circana is proud to be part of this celebration, recognising the brands that have significantly impacted the Australian market."

Fan Favourite - Beer & Cider

Classic Victoria Bitter (VB) retains its ‘Most Loved’ status amongst the classics as a truly iconic Aussie beer brand. Consumer feedback included “there is a unique taste to Victoria Bitter.”

There were no surprises. Great Northern is here again; the Contemporary Beer combines its idyllic North Queensland brand image with an easy-drinking lager. Consumer comments included its easy drinking and Australian with a great taste."

Premium Corona is a much-loved brand and is the clear Premium Beer winner this year. Easy to drink and highly refreshing, it is a summer favourite. General consumer feedback was this beer is ‘refreshing‘ and is 'great for summer', referencing the traditional addition of lemon or lime enhancing the taste.

Craft James Squire 150 Lashes has returned to its number-one spot this year as the Most Popular craft beer. Consumer comments include "It's a fabulous beer for flavour and crispness' and "refreshing and enjoyable."

This year we have a new Fan Favourite in Non-Alcoholic Beer, with Great Northern Zero taking the top spot ahead of Heineken 0.0.

No surprise, Somersby is the clear cider number one and continues to dominate the Cider Fan Favourite award. Consumers said it was because it was accessible with the best taste. The Non-Alcoholic Cider winner is The Hills Virgin Apple Cider 0%.

Fan Favourite - RTD & Seltzer 

Canadian Club Whisky & Dry won the Fan Favourite Dark RTD award, the same result as 2022 showing how popular this drink is. The award has historically been a battle between Jim Beam and Jack Daniels RTDs. Consumer feedback included, "It tastes great and is a great alternative to beer.”

Vodka Cruiser remains the clear favourite in the White RTD category. Consumer feedback includes “because it’s the best and a decent price" and "you can get packs with all the flavours.” The winner of the new Seltzer category is Smirnoff, while the Non-Alcoholic RTD went to Gordon's 0.0 Gin with Tonic & Lime.

Fan Favourite - Spirits 
Dark Spirit Fan Favourite went to Jack Daniel's. Key factors influencing consumer voting for JD was because of availability and taste. Consumer comments included "It is one of the best brands all over the world" and "It mixes the perfect drink, not too light and not too heavy."

Smirnoff won White Spirit Fan Favourite, with consumer voting influenced hugely by price. Comments also included the brand's familiarity and product innovation. One consumer said, "I just love Smirnoff vodka; it's an all-time favourite."

Eternal consumer favourite, Baileys Irish Liqueur, came through as the Aperitif/Liqueur Fan Favourite. Consumers said they love the taste referencing the creamy sweetness. Most consumer feedback was all about the taste. One said it reminded them of Christmas.

Non-Alcoholic Spirit went to Gordon's 0.0 Gin following the brand's win in the RTD Fan Favourite category.

Fan Favourite - Wine

Penfolds is once again the Fan Favourite Red Wine. Consumers said, "It’s Australian and a trusted brand at an affordable price with great quality.”

The White Wine Fan Favourite this year went to Jacob’s Creek, knocking Oyster Bay from the position. Consumers said, "it is always consistent" and "it never fails me."

Once again, TWE’s Squealing Pig has taken the lead as Australia’s favourite Rose. Consumers said, "it’s a cute name and label" and "a great-tasting product at a good price."

Chandon took over from Brown Brothers as the Fan Favourite for Australian Sparkling. Consumers said, "Chandon is always made at such a high quality for the price.”

When it comes to Champagne, Moët & Chandon is again head and shoulders above its competition as the favourite Champagne brand among consumers. Comments included "it looks great and tastes great every time", '"because the brand is trendy", and "it feels expensive and tastes expensive."

The Non-Alcoholic Wine went to Wolf Blass Zero Shiraz, gaining recognition for its progression in taste innovation in the Non-Alcoholic space, traditionally difficult to achieve in the red wine sub-category.

Gaining In Popularity Awards

The Gaining in Popularity Awards reward consumer engagement across spirits, beer, wine, RTDs and cider.

Thrive’s Mr Papadimitriou said: “The Gaining in Popularity award is always one to watch, unearthing emerging and interesting brands. This year is no different, with some exciting brands taking out this category.”

Fever-Tree is the sponsor of the Gaining in Popularity category again this year, and Marketing Director Caroline Woods said, "We are delighted to sponsor the Australian Drinks Awards 'Gaining in Popularity' category. At Fever-Tree, we pride ourselves on helping Australians discover the wonderful world of mixed drinks, and we love to partner with such premium brands that are well represented here tonight."

"We are excited to see so many fantastic brands in contention this year, both new and established brands in the drinks world. It’s incredible to see so much innovation and excitement continuing to fuel each of these categories. Best of luck to all involved!”

Gaining in Popularity - Beer & Cider

Leveraging its brand strength, Classic Beer went to Victoria Bitter Xtra 6.0% (VX) stood out with its higher ABV offering, differentiating it in the classic beer category. Consumers said they loved the elevated alcohol strength.

The craft beer experts at Stone & Wood took out the Contemporary Beer title with Stone & Wood Green Coast Crisp 3.5%. The team delivered a refreshing, easy-drinking lager that beer drinkers love. Consumer feedback focussed on the great taste.

The Premium Beer award went to Yebisu Premium Gold Beer, continuing the tradition of Japanese excellence and following the trend toward crisp and refreshing Asian beer.

Balter has created yet another exciting craft beer offering and has taken out the Craft Beer category with its Balter Eazy Hazy. Eazy Hazy is considered by consumers a great-tasting craft beer that is full-flavoured and easy to drink. Consumer feedback included it was easy to drink and not too heavy.

Gage Roads Yeah Buoy XPA was the biggest gainer of popularity in the Non-Alcoholic space. The non-alcoholic craft beer from West Australian brewer Gage Roads is kicking goals in this category.

Funk Cider won cider; this fun and unique brand from Swan Valley, WA, has generated excitement, with consumers saying it has a unique taste at an affordable price.

Gaining in Popularity - RTD

Dark Canadian Club Whiskey Soda & Lime: The Canadian Club brand momentum continues with Canadian Club Whiskey Soda & Lime taking out the Gaining in Popularity award. Consumers said it was 'a solid drink to have on the weekends' and 'I like the whiskey brand but also the added lime.' Other comments included, it is super refreshing and light.

White Bilson's Vodka Fruit Tingle: The striking and distinctive Bilson's brand stood out from the crowd and has won the Gaining in Popularity award for Bilson's Vodka Fruit Tingle. Consumers said it had the best flavour and it was readily available in-store. Other comments included 'It is the perfect combination of sweet and tangy.'

Seltzer White Claw: Leading American seltzer brand White Claw is one to watch, as it has taken out the Gaining in Popularity award this year. It continues to dominate in the US and looks poised to be making similar ground in Australia.

Non-Alc RTD gaining the most in the popularity stakes was the Naked Life Margarita.

Gaining in Popularity - Spirits 

The Dark Spirit, to gain the most ground in popularity, went to Japanese whisky, Dark Yamakazi. This 100-year-old brand is making waves for its high quality and taste. One consumer said "this whisky is special."

Ghost Tequila won the White Spirit category. Consumer comments included "it is the best to drink and leaves less of a headache." Tequila's popularity is gaining ground, and this 100% agave tequila is winning fans with its pinch of pepper heat, making for a deliciously piquant Margarita.

The Aperitif/Liqueur category went to Australian brand Poor Toms Negroni Australiano, favoured for its complexity of flavour and the 45 fruits, herbs and tinctures distilled to deliver a uniquely Australian Negroni made with 100% Australian ingredients, including Sydney Dry Gin, Imbroglio Amaro and Maidenii Sweet Vermouth.

Non-Alcoholic Spirits was won by Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Bandwagon.

“Based on the Bloody Shiraz Gin from leading Gin distillers Four Pillars, the Bloody Shiraz Bandwagon not only has a clever name (you can get on it even when you’re not drinking), it has stood out as the spirit most gaining in popularity,” said Papadimitriou.

Gaining in Popularity - Wine

The winner of the Red Wine category was Fourth Wave Wine brand Tread Softly for its packaging, organic credentials, and lower alcohol. Consumers said it tasted great at a good price.

White Wine again went to Treasury Wine Estates for 19 Crimes because of the price and taste. Consumers said they like the 'premium' taste and the affordability.

Yering Station’s Little Yering Dry Rosé from the Yarra Valley took out the Rosé category for its Merlot and Shiraz-based blend and elegant Victorian expression.

The Sparkling was awarded to Coldstream Hills from the Yarra Valley, again a cool climate Victorian proving popular. Consumers said they bought it because it is ‘high quality’.

The most growing in popularity, Champagne is Champagne Thiénot X Penfolds. This collaboration between iconic Australian brand Penfolds and Champagne house Thiénot has proved a hit with Australian consumers. Comments included it is 'very good' and 'excellent quality.'

The Non-Alcoholic Wine category went to Brown Brothers Moscato Zero. This Victorian bubbly from the Brown Family Group is winning favour for its flavour and texture.

The Brand Health Report from Thrive Insights is now available to Drinks Association member companies. Contact Marketing Manager Kylie Le Lievre for further information.

Congratulations to all the winners in the Brand Awards category, and thanks to our sponsors Circana, and Fever-Tree.

All the winners from the 2023 Australian Drinks Awards are available here:

The Drinks Association would like to extend its thanks to its generous sponsors for this year’s event.

and Summary