What’s all the buzz around non-alcoholic beverages ?

What’s all the buzz around non-alcoholic beverages ?

By
Laura Robinson
January 21, 2020

Once upon a time, a friend stood up and announced it was his round.

After a chorus of beer, wine and cocktail orders, your request for an orange juice was met with muffled groans of objection. Surely you must be a) pregnant b) a health freak or c) a bit of a party pooper to choose to ditch the booze?But – thankfully for our livers – times have changed. According to IWSR, global alcohol consumption fell by 1.5% in 2018. Berenberg Research found that teenagers and twenty-somethings were drinking over 20% less per capita than millennials — who in turn drank less than baby boomers and Gen Xers did.As alcohol sales decline, experts predict that the non-alcoholic drinks market will bring in $2,090 billion by 2022. The drinks giants - from Diageo and Pernod Ricard to Molson Coors – have certainly seen the writing on the wall. From investing in innovation incubators to acquiring up-and-coming brands, they’re committed to developing alcohol-free alternatives that consumers can be truly proud to order.    Ready to jump on the booze-free bandwagon? Here are a couple of pointers to make sure you’re heading in the right direction.  

Trend drivers: Health, social media and inclusivity of the sober curious

Concerned about the health risks of alcohol consumption, millennials are driving the $4.2 trillion global wellness market. Their preference for natural, low-sugar products has shaped innovation in cereals and sauces over the last few years - and this trend has now leaked over into beverages.Campaigns like Dry January – ingeniously timed to target consumers lamenting their Christmas excesses – have helped to redefine existing drinkers’ relationship with the hard stuff. Whereas for Generation Z, control is a key watchword. Their fear of social media shaming if drunken antics get shared online is enough to turn many off the booze entirely.

But consumers – especially millennials - remain hungry for experiences. They still want to hang out in cool bars and dance until the early hours. They want drinks that taste – and look - good. They’re just choosing to ditch the hangover. So there’s a huge opportunity for brands and venues that successfully play to the needs of the sober curious.  

Riding the trend: functional and plant-based

For starters, this means getting functional. From Coke’s VitaminWater and digestion aiding Kombucha – brands need to offer much more than just hydration. When it comes to evening hour drinks, this might mean mocktails enhanced with colourful “superfood” ingredients like turmeric or algae or beer infused with herbal ingredients like CBD.

It also means creating new plant-powered products. Many non-alcoholic spirits brands, for example, are turning to active plant compounds that mimic alcohol’s positive effects. By using a wide range of botanicals - from seaweed to vanilla – or drawing on fruity or citrusy notes, products nail the natural trend, delivering on taste minus the sugar, colourings and flavourings.

Products and experiences: craft cocktails and dry-bar hopping  

Ben Branson, founder of alcohol-free spirit brand Seedlip, has been developing products to create on trend craft cocktails since 2015. They’re now sold in over 25 countries, including in 300 Michelin starred venues. The brand has witnessed volume growth of more than 270% in 2019. Their latest ad campaign showcases a number of personas – the “can’t”, “balanced” and “doesn’t” drinkers – to further normalise a culture of non-drinking.

Building on the buzz around Dry January, Scottish Brewer and distiller, BrewDog, has recently opened an alcohol free bar, serving up a range of non-alcoholic spirits, beers and ciders. Their “Drink all you can Jan” initiative is a tempting call for those who are finding it hard to reign in their nights out after a month of celebrations. Similar concepts have been springing up like mushrooms across the US and the UK over the last few months.

Innovators in the food service sector have also been quick to capitalise on this trend. Chelsea Carrier, Beverage Director of O Ya Japanese restaurant in New York, for example, developed non-alcoholic pairings for their menu - and 20% of drinks orders are now non-alcoholic. But this doesn’t mean lower profit margins. Non-drinkers are prepared to pay premium prices if it means they won’t have to face another sparkling water or semi-flat diet coke.

Getting it right: innovation vs. tradition

It seems that there are horses for courses. Beverage companies are facing the same challenges and opportunities that food producers are in relation to the growing popularity of plant-based foods.

Some younger non-drinkers – like Gen Z vegans - may be looking for new and innovative alternatives that don’t reflect established drinking culture. Whereas others - like meat-loving, but value-driven flexitarians – want products and venues that provide healthier alternatives but are still reminiscent of the products and experiences they grew up with. Here it’s brands that highlight their traditional production methods, liquor-like colour, taste and mouthfeel and plant-fuelled buzz that will be toasting their success in 2020.

Business opportunities

Manufacturers

  • Adapt the recipe, packaging or marketing messages around existing non-alcoholic products to make them more suitable for the evening hours market.
  • Consider which functional benefits might interest your customers and find plant-based ingredients that fit the bill – from CBD for stress relief to superfood supplements for a wellbeing boost.  

Food Service

  • Develop a separate non-alcoholic drinks menu or offer booze-free drinks pairing for tasting menus, so sober curious consumers can try out premium alternatives.    
  • Invite a mixologist to run a pop-up craft cocktail event to pique customers’ interest and help you identify the best products for your concept.
  • Be bold and create a sober bar concept in your area, offering customers 100% fun with 0% hangover.  

Retail

  • Benefit from post-holiday booze fatigue and organise some in-store tastings of the latest non-alcoholic alternatives on your shelves.
  • Become a local go-to brand for non-drinkers. Dry Drinker – an UK online store specialising in non-alcoholic beverages – has doubled its sales in the last 12 months.

Written by
Laura Robinson

From policy geek to digital consultant, Laura has always enjoyed bringing people together through words or tools to drive positive change. She is most proud of finally taking the leap into entrepreneurship by founding Pink Pear Agency - a network of passionate specialists who help food businesses grow innovative projects and share their stories with the world. Laura is currently interested in project development and management, digital tools, content strategy and copywriting.

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Once upon a time, a friend stood up and announced it was his round.

After a chorus of beer, wine and cocktail orders, your request for an orange juice was met with muffled groans of objection. Surely you must be a) pregnant b) a health freak or c) a bit of a party pooper to choose to ditch the booze?But – thankfully for our livers – times have changed. According to IWSR, global alcohol consumption fell by 1.5% in 2018. Berenberg Research found that teenagers and twenty-somethings were drinking over 20% less per capita than millennials — who in turn drank less than baby boomers and Gen Xers did.As alcohol sales decline, experts predict that the non-alcoholic drinks market will bring in $2,090 billion by 2022. The drinks giants - from Diageo and Pernod Ricard to Molson Coors – have certainly seen the writing on the wall. From investing in innovation incubators to acquiring up-and-coming brands, they’re committed to developing alcohol-free alternatives that consumers can be truly proud to order.    Ready to jump on the booze-free bandwagon? Here are a couple of pointers to make sure you’re heading in the right direction.  

Trend drivers: Health, social media and inclusivity of the sober curious

Concerned about the health risks of alcohol consumption, millennials are driving the $4.2 trillion global wellness market. Their preference for natural, low-sugar products has shaped innovation in cereals and sauces over the last few years - and this trend has now leaked over into beverages.Campaigns like Dry January – ingeniously timed to target consumers lamenting their Christmas excesses – have helped to redefine existing drinkers’ relationship with the hard stuff. Whereas for Generation Z, control is a key watchword. Their fear of social media shaming if drunken antics get shared online is enough to turn many off the booze entirely.

But consumers – especially millennials - remain hungry for experiences. They still want to hang out in cool bars and dance until the early hours. They want drinks that taste – and look - good. They’re just choosing to ditch the hangover. So there’s a huge opportunity for brands and venues that successfully play to the needs of the sober curious.  

Riding the trend: functional and plant-based

For starters, this means getting functional. From Coke’s VitaminWater and digestion aiding Kombucha – brands need to offer much more than just hydration. When it comes to evening hour drinks, this might mean mocktails enhanced with colourful “superfood” ingredients like turmeric or algae or beer infused with herbal ingredients like CBD.

It also means creating new plant-powered products. Many non-alcoholic spirits brands, for example, are turning to active plant compounds that mimic alcohol’s positive effects. By using a wide range of botanicals - from seaweed to vanilla – or drawing on fruity or citrusy notes, products nail the natural trend, delivering on taste minus the sugar, colourings and flavourings.

Products and experiences: craft cocktails and dry-bar hopping  

Ben Branson, founder of alcohol-free spirit brand Seedlip, has been developing products to create on trend craft cocktails since 2015. They’re now sold in over 25 countries, including in 300 Michelin starred venues. The brand has witnessed volume growth of more than 270% in 2019. Their latest ad campaign showcases a number of personas – the “can’t”, “balanced” and “doesn’t” drinkers – to further normalise a culture of non-drinking.

Building on the buzz around Dry January, Scottish Brewer and distiller, BrewDog, has recently opened an alcohol free bar, serving up a range of non-alcoholic spirits, beers and ciders. Their “Drink all you can Jan” initiative is a tempting call for those who are finding it hard to reign in their nights out after a month of celebrations. Similar concepts have been springing up like mushrooms across the US and the UK over the last few months.

Innovators in the food service sector have also been quick to capitalise on this trend. Chelsea Carrier, Beverage Director of O Ya Japanese restaurant in New York, for example, developed non-alcoholic pairings for their menu - and 20% of drinks orders are now non-alcoholic. But this doesn’t mean lower profit margins. Non-drinkers are prepared to pay premium prices if it means they won’t have to face another sparkling water or semi-flat diet coke.

Getting it right: innovation vs. tradition

It seems that there are horses for courses. Beverage companies are facing the same challenges and opportunities that food producers are in relation to the growing popularity of plant-based foods.

Some younger non-drinkers – like Gen Z vegans - may be looking for new and innovative alternatives that don’t reflect established drinking culture. Whereas others - like meat-loving, but value-driven flexitarians – want products and venues that provide healthier alternatives but are still reminiscent of the products and experiences they grew up with. Here it’s brands that highlight their traditional production methods, liquor-like colour, taste and mouthfeel and plant-fuelled buzz that will be toasting their success in 2020.

Business opportunities

Manufacturers

  • Adapt the recipe, packaging or marketing messages around existing non-alcoholic products to make them more suitable for the evening hours market.
  • Consider which functional benefits might interest your customers and find plant-based ingredients that fit the bill – from CBD for stress relief to superfood supplements for a wellbeing boost.  

Food Service

  • Develop a separate non-alcoholic drinks menu or offer booze-free drinks pairing for tasting menus, so sober curious consumers can try out premium alternatives.    
  • Invite a mixologist to run a pop-up craft cocktail event to pique customers’ interest and help you identify the best products for your concept.
  • Be bold and create a sober bar concept in your area, offering customers 100% fun with 0% hangover.  

Retail

  • Benefit from post-holiday booze fatigue and organise some in-store tastings of the latest non-alcoholic alternatives on your shelves.
  • Become a local go-to brand for non-drinkers. Dry Drinker – an UK online store specialising in non-alcoholic beverages – has doubled its sales in the last 12 months.

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  • Read Unlimited Articles
  • Access Member Directory
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Once upon a time, a friend stood up and announced it was his round.

After a chorus of beer, wine and cocktail orders, your request for an orange juice was met with muffled groans of objection. Surely you must be a) pregnant b) a health freak or c) a bit of a party pooper to choose to ditch the booze?But – thankfully for our livers – times have changed. According to IWSR, global alcohol consumption fell by 1.5% in 2018. Berenberg Research found that teenagers and twenty-somethings were drinking over 20% less per capita than millennials — who in turn drank less than baby boomers and Gen Xers did.As alcohol sales decline, experts predict that the non-alcoholic drinks market will bring in $2,090 billion by 2022. The drinks giants - from Diageo and Pernod Ricard to Molson Coors – have certainly seen the writing on the wall. From investing in innovation incubators to acquiring up-and-coming brands, they’re committed to developing alcohol-free alternatives that consumers can be truly proud to order.    Ready to jump on the booze-free bandwagon? Here are a couple of pointers to make sure you’re heading in the right direction.  

Trend drivers: Health, social media and inclusivity of the sober curious

Concerned about the health risks of alcohol consumption, millennials are driving the $4.2 trillion global wellness market. Their preference for natural, low-sugar products has shaped innovation in cereals and sauces over the last few years - and this trend has now leaked over into beverages.Campaigns like Dry January – ingeniously timed to target consumers lamenting their Christmas excesses – have helped to redefine existing drinkers’ relationship with the hard stuff. Whereas for Generation Z, control is a key watchword. Their fear of social media shaming if drunken antics get shared online is enough to turn many off the booze entirely.

But consumers – especially millennials - remain hungry for experiences. They still want to hang out in cool bars and dance until the early hours. They want drinks that taste – and look - good. They’re just choosing to ditch the hangover. So there’s a huge opportunity for brands and venues that successfully play to the needs of the sober curious.  

Riding the trend: functional and plant-based

For starters, this means getting functional. From Coke’s VitaminWater and digestion aiding Kombucha – brands need to offer much more than just hydration. When it comes to evening hour drinks, this might mean mocktails enhanced with colourful “superfood” ingredients like turmeric or algae or beer infused with herbal ingredients like CBD.

It also means creating new plant-powered products. Many non-alcoholic spirits brands, for example, are turning to active plant compounds that mimic alcohol’s positive effects. By using a wide range of botanicals - from seaweed to vanilla – or drawing on fruity or citrusy notes, products nail the natural trend, delivering on taste minus the sugar, colourings and flavourings.

Products and experiences: craft cocktails and dry-bar hopping  

Ben Branson, founder of alcohol-free spirit brand Seedlip, has been developing products to create on trend craft cocktails since 2015. They’re now sold in over 25 countries, including in 300 Michelin starred venues. The brand has witnessed volume growth of more than 270% in 2019. Their latest ad campaign showcases a number of personas – the “can’t”, “balanced” and “doesn’t” drinkers – to further normalise a culture of non-drinking.

Building on the buzz around Dry January, Scottish Brewer and distiller, BrewDog, has recently opened an alcohol free bar, serving up a range of non-alcoholic spirits, beers and ciders. Their “Drink all you can Jan” initiative is a tempting call for those who are finding it hard to reign in their nights out after a month of celebrations. Similar concepts have been springing up like mushrooms across the US and the UK over the last few months.

Innovators in the food service sector have also been quick to capitalise on this trend. Chelsea Carrier, Beverage Director of O Ya Japanese restaurant in New York, for example, developed non-alcoholic pairings for their menu - and 20% of drinks orders are now non-alcoholic. But this doesn’t mean lower profit margins. Non-drinkers are prepared to pay premium prices if it means they won’t have to face another sparkling water or semi-flat diet coke.

Getting it right: innovation vs. tradition

It seems that there are horses for courses. Beverage companies are facing the same challenges and opportunities that food producers are in relation to the growing popularity of plant-based foods.

Some younger non-drinkers – like Gen Z vegans - may be looking for new and innovative alternatives that don’t reflect established drinking culture. Whereas others - like meat-loving, but value-driven flexitarians – want products and venues that provide healthier alternatives but are still reminiscent of the products and experiences they grew up with. Here it’s brands that highlight their traditional production methods, liquor-like colour, taste and mouthfeel and plant-fuelled buzz that will be toasting their success in 2020.

Business opportunities

Manufacturers

  • Adapt the recipe, packaging or marketing messages around existing non-alcoholic products to make them more suitable for the evening hours market.
  • Consider which functional benefits might interest your customers and find plant-based ingredients that fit the bill – from CBD for stress relief to superfood supplements for a wellbeing boost.  

Food Service

  • Develop a separate non-alcoholic drinks menu or offer booze-free drinks pairing for tasting menus, so sober curious consumers can try out premium alternatives.    
  • Invite a mixologist to run a pop-up craft cocktail event to pique customers’ interest and help you identify the best products for your concept.
  • Be bold and create a sober bar concept in your area, offering customers 100% fun with 0% hangover.  

Retail

  • Benefit from post-holiday booze fatigue and organise some in-store tastings of the latest non-alcoholic alternatives on your shelves.
  • Become a local go-to brand for non-drinkers. Dry Drinker – an UK online store specialising in non-alcoholic beverages – has doubled its sales in the last 12 months.

Once upon a time, a friend stood up and announced it was his round.

After a chorus of beer, wine and cocktail orders, your request for an orange juice was met with muffled groans of objection. Surely you must be a) pregnant b) a health freak or c) a bit of a party pooper to choose to ditch the booze?But – thankfully for our livers – times have changed. According to IWSR, global alcohol consumption fell by 1.5% in 2018. Berenberg Research found that teenagers and twenty-somethings were drinking over 20% less per capita than millennials — who in turn drank less than baby boomers and Gen Xers did.As alcohol sales decline, experts predict that the non-alcoholic drinks market will bring in $2,090 billion by 2022. The drinks giants - from Diageo and Pernod Ricard to Molson Coors – have certainly seen the writing on the wall. From investing in innovation incubators to acquiring up-and-coming brands, they’re committed to developing alcohol-free alternatives that consumers can be truly proud to order.    Ready to jump on the booze-free bandwagon? Here are a couple of pointers to make sure you’re heading in the right direction.  

Trend drivers: Health, social media and inclusivity of the sober curious

Concerned about the health risks of alcohol consumption, millennials are driving the $4.2 trillion global wellness market. Their preference for natural, low-sugar products has shaped innovation in cereals and sauces over the last few years - and this trend has now leaked over into beverages.Campaigns like Dry January – ingeniously timed to target consumers lamenting their Christmas excesses – have helped to redefine existing drinkers’ relationship with the hard stuff. Whereas for Generation Z, control is a key watchword. Their fear of social media shaming if drunken antics get shared online is enough to turn many off the booze entirely.

But consumers – especially millennials - remain hungry for experiences. They still want to hang out in cool bars and dance until the early hours. They want drinks that taste – and look - good. They’re just choosing to ditch the hangover. So there’s a huge opportunity for brands and venues that successfully play to the needs of the sober curious.  

Riding the trend: functional and plant-based

For starters, this means getting functional. From Coke’s VitaminWater and digestion aiding Kombucha – brands need to offer much more than just hydration. When it comes to evening hour drinks, this might mean mocktails enhanced with colourful “superfood” ingredients like turmeric or algae or beer infused with herbal ingredients like CBD.

It also means creating new plant-powered products. Many non-alcoholic spirits brands, for example, are turning to active plant compounds that mimic alcohol’s positive effects. By using a wide range of botanicals - from seaweed to vanilla – or drawing on fruity or citrusy notes, products nail the natural trend, delivering on taste minus the sugar, colourings and flavourings.

Products and experiences: craft cocktails and dry-bar hopping  

Ben Branson, founder of alcohol-free spirit brand Seedlip, has been developing products to create on trend craft cocktails since 2015. They’re now sold in over 25 countries, including in 300 Michelin starred venues. The brand has witnessed volume growth of more than 270% in 2019. Their latest ad campaign showcases a number of personas – the “can’t”, “balanced” and “doesn’t” drinkers – to further normalise a culture of non-drinking.

Building on the buzz around Dry January, Scottish Brewer and distiller, BrewDog, has recently opened an alcohol free bar, serving up a range of non-alcoholic spirits, beers and ciders. Their “Drink all you can Jan” initiative is a tempting call for those who are finding it hard to reign in their nights out after a month of celebrations. Similar concepts have been springing up like mushrooms across the US and the UK over the last few months.

Innovators in the food service sector have also been quick to capitalise on this trend. Chelsea Carrier, Beverage Director of O Ya Japanese restaurant in New York, for example, developed non-alcoholic pairings for their menu - and 20% of drinks orders are now non-alcoholic. But this doesn’t mean lower profit margins. Non-drinkers are prepared to pay premium prices if it means they won’t have to face another sparkling water or semi-flat diet coke.

Getting it right: innovation vs. tradition

It seems that there are horses for courses. Beverage companies are facing the same challenges and opportunities that food producers are in relation to the growing popularity of plant-based foods.

Some younger non-drinkers – like Gen Z vegans - may be looking for new and innovative alternatives that don’t reflect established drinking culture. Whereas others - like meat-loving, but value-driven flexitarians – want products and venues that provide healthier alternatives but are still reminiscent of the products and experiences they grew up with. Here it’s brands that highlight their traditional production methods, liquor-like colour, taste and mouthfeel and plant-fuelled buzz that will be toasting their success in 2020.

Business opportunities

Manufacturers

  • Adapt the recipe, packaging or marketing messages around existing non-alcoholic products to make them more suitable for the evening hours market.
  • Consider which functional benefits might interest your customers and find plant-based ingredients that fit the bill – from CBD for stress relief to superfood supplements for a wellbeing boost.  

Food Service

  • Develop a separate non-alcoholic drinks menu or offer booze-free drinks pairing for tasting menus, so sober curious consumers can try out premium alternatives.    
  • Invite a mixologist to run a pop-up craft cocktail event to pique customers’ interest and help you identify the best products for your concept.
  • Be bold and create a sober bar concept in your area, offering customers 100% fun with 0% hangover.  

Retail

  • Benefit from post-holiday booze fatigue and organise some in-store tastings of the latest non-alcoholic alternatives on your shelves.
  • Become a local go-to brand for non-drinkers. Dry Drinker – an UK online store specialising in non-alcoholic beverages – has doubled its sales in the last 12 months.