Low- and No-Alcohol Trend is Coming To Shake Food and Beverage Brands

The kids have stopped drinking! Yes, it’s true. Or partly true, at least. The pastime of binge drinking, typically associated with ” the youth”, is currently losing favour as more and more young people opt for low alcohol or no-alcohol substitutes.


Stats have come out recently, both here in the UK and in the US, suggesting that a significant percentage of the millennial market (18-34-year-olds) are putting down the bottle, or choosing to consume alcoholic beverages with a lower abv.


A poll conducted by The Portman Group in the UK found that almost 10% of 18 to 34-year-olds have already shifted their drinking behaviour to favour lower abv beverages, and a whopping 22% are considering to follow suit.


Over in the US, we found some telling statistics about the volume drop and slowing of growth for brands in the alcohol businesses. In 2018 the US saw volumes drop by 0.8%, which comes in slightly steeper than the 0.7% drop in 2017. Beer seems to be the category suffering most, with volumes down 1.5% in 2018, compared to a drop of 1.1% in 2017.


The rise of mindfulness

It is suggested that this trend is coming from the increasing popularity of “mindful drinking”. Which, as with all other mindfulness practices is all about being conscious, or mindful, about what you’re drinking, how much, and if you truly need it. As dubbed by The Portman Group, what we have now is “generation sensible”, a demographic that cares about being in control.


Other factors likely to be playing a large part are changes in culture, cafe culture in particular, and a preference for experiences (like travel, skydiving or road tripping) over big nights out. Today we have more cafes than ever, staying open later than ever, and we have more bars acting as a hybrid serving both the caffeine seeking clientele as well as those with a penchant for the alcoholic beverage.


If it’s any consolation

The good news for food and beverage brands in the alcohol space is that there is a growing market for low and no-alcohol alternatives. In the US, the IWSR forecasts that this market will grow by 32.1% between 2018 and 2022. That is 3x the growth this market has experience in the past five years. Highlighting just how serious the demand is amongst this demographic.


While brand pivots and product development in new categories can be a daunting task, the upside is much greater than the growth (or decline) predicted if brands continue as they currently are.


Understanding your audience is the first step to succeeding in the changing food and beverage landscape. Front and centre of insight gathering about your audience is your digital strategy. Now more than ever is the time to invest in your digital marketing and implement initiatives to engage your audience and learn what it is they want from your brand and your sector. Those who stay ahead of the curve in their digital activities will be those that continue to remain relevant and deliver new products that meet the demands of their demographic.


How are we so sure? We have extensive experience in the food and beverage sector giving us unique insight and access to the trends of the market. We work with brands such as Eden Mill and Highland Chocolatier to design and develop web solutions and digital marketing strategies to help them reach new audiences.

Looking at Google Trends over the past 5 years, alcohol free search terms have quadrupled in popularity!  

We also love using tools such as Answer the Public allows us to see what exactly people are searching around our topic. Also great if you’re building a Google Ads campaign, it will throw up suggestions you’ll want to add to your negative keywords. 

If you’re a food and beverage brand currently questioning how to reach these new audiences or for some advice o your campaigns, it’s time to get in touch!

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