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More and more consumers are choosing to either abstain completely or moderate their alcohol intake. From the consumers we’ve spoken to there are various reasons for this…
For some it’s health reasons, wanting to take care of their bodies and consume fewer calories. For others it’s financial, looking to save money and consume fewer drinks when out. And for many it comes down to productivity and wanting to have more energy for work, kids or the gym the next day.
Although there are many low and no options available, the category is difficult to understand, and consumers are looking to the trade to help them navigate this space.
Grouping low and no together seems to be confusing and unhelpful as the concept of low is challenging. Consumers don’t tend to understand low outside of beer and although the behaviour is there with many gravitating towards lower alcohol drinks such as spritzers, it’s not a conscious choice as the majority are choosing these for the flavour credentials and are usually unaware of the ABV.
To help consumers understand this better, many establishments around the globe are simply adding ABV to menus, in the same way we’ve recently added calories for food.  It’s a way for consumers to navigate their options rather than separating these drinks out to a low section of the menu – it’s all still drinking after all and most consumers are simply either drinking, or not drinking.
When they are completely abstaining from alcohol there’s still a desire for drinks that have the look and feel of alcohol. A fresh lime and soda is a popular choice as it mimics the look of alcohol whilst also being refreshing and low in calories and, perhaps more importantly to the consumer, it’s inexpensive.
The issue that we’re still facing is that most consumers still see alcohol as the value in the glass and therefore aren’t as willing to pay the same for non-alcoholic alternatives. Yet they do see the value in elevated drinking experiences and are many are happy to pay for carefully created cocktails from experience bartenders that are made with interesting ingredients.
There’s also a need to make these non alc options more inclusive and less divisive on menus.  Terms such as mocktail and virgin cocktail, although a language that consumers understand, make these drinks appear less than their alcoholic counterparts so there’s a job to be done to make them more inclusive. Other terms to consider on menus include:  zero proof, non-alcoholic and temperance.
Making sure these options are incorporated into the main drink’s menu, rather than in a section at the back with the kids’ drinks, will also increase their perceived value and won’t alienate the consumer.
The future of this category looks positive and as we move towards a healthier society, but we need to ensure we provide good quality options that cater to everyone.
This article was written by Jaala Gallagher, Client Director.