Zeroing in on a market

In recent years, more people than ever are actively looking to reduce their alcohol intake – whether that’s having a night off, alternating between alcohol and no alcohol, or giving up alcoholic drinks altogether.

Throw a global pandemic into the mix and alcohol trends have really been forced to take a whole new direction. With pub and bar closures across the UK, brands in this sector needed to innovate, and fast! As although booze sales are skyrocketing, a sizeable proportion of this spend has transferred from the out-of-home arena. Even if Brits are drinking more than usual, they haven’t completely abandoned their aspirations of a healthy lifestyle. So how have the brands done it?

RETHINKING HOW WE’RE DRINKING

Whether you’re cutting down for health reasons, don’t want to wake up hungover with a 9am Zoom call and small children to look after the next day, or like myself you are pregnant with simply no option but to choose something soft (and incredibly boring!), an explosion of new low/non-alcohol brands have come to the forefront of our attention over recent weeks to tempt our taste buds.

Tapping into the national mindset that the removal of alcohol doesn’t necessarily mean you should sacrifice your standards and enjoyment of a deliciously satisfying beverage.

“It’s about being able to choose when, where and if you want to drink alcohol, without feeling like you’re missing out if you don’t.”

The low and non-alcohol lifestyle is clearly booming, and brands are seriously taking note. But is this just because of lockdown? I say no. Society may have changed beyond recognition in the space of 3 months, but the trend for low/no-alcohol has been coming for a while.

In a 2018 survey, 61% of consumers want better choice when it comes to non-alcoholic drinks

DRINKING TO THE FUTURE

The success of Seedlip, a non-alcoholic spirit made from distilled botanicals, underlines this attitude. Launched in London by Ben Branson in 2014, Seedlip is the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit to “pioneer” the category and prove that no-alcohol shouldn’t be second best. Crucially, Seedlip wants to save us non-drinkers from the suffering of “poor sugary drinks options” and insists that alcohol-free doesn’t have to mean “Coke, lime sodas or mocktails”. It’s no surprise that many low and non-alcohol brands have since followed suit, with the non-alcoholic drinks market growing by 16% in the past two years. Not to mention that the value sales of low & non-alcoholic drinks has surged 13.7%.

But as competition grows, Seedlip must remain as agile as when it first began. NPD is one way that Seedlip hopes to take the lead and stay ahead of the category, launching a new range of Seedlip pre-mix tonics building on its bottled Nogroni cocktail released in October 2019. However, despite the competition, I’m excited to say that even with all this buzz, Seedlip’s approach is very much: “We’re just getting started”…Cheers to that!

Combine these pioneering efforts with the fact that low/no drinks have stepped away from the stigma of being boring and bland, often commented now on for their improved ingredients and taste – the second-biggest motivator for purchasing within this category – then quite frankly in my opinion you’re onto a winner.

Society is now at the beginning of a paradigm shift in the role drinks play in our lives and the bigger cultural forces at work mean the need for quality, adult no-alcohol options has certainly never been more relevant.

Low & no has undoubtedly grown from a much-maligned niche into a category of its own right in the last 12 weeks but it’s a trend that’s here to stay, justifying serious space on the supermarket shelves. When the pubs and bars eventually open back up in what we hope may be only a matter of weeks, the G-free drinks will be one to watch on the menu!

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