Occasion led sampling, education and improved accessibility are vital to the future of the low/no category, according to Club Soda’s newly-released impact report, which centres around its pop-up alcohol-free off licence.

Following the establishment of the Club Soda alcohol free off-licence in December 2021, the mindful drinking organisation has shared its learnings from the four months that it held residence at Great Portland Street in central London.

As more shoppers explore the low/no category, the report affirmed that “just as with any new product to the market, consumer education is vital”.

The report noted that “producers and consumers use alcohol as a reference point for alcohol free”, and so usually seek out products that “replicate the tastes and occasions of alcohol”. As a result, occasion and category-led sampling proved popular in driving purchasing decisions. 

Club Soda found offering samples and providing staff with the knowledge to educate consumers proved successful in building “trust” among consumers. 

In terms of categories, spirits saw the highest percentage (51.4) of sales takings, followed by wine (20.4%) and beer (12.5%). Beer held the greatest volume share in sales (38.4%), followed by spirits (16.6%) and wine (13.8%).  In total, the shop offered 101 brands and 343 products. 

In 15 weeks of opening, the off-licence saw a total of 9,500 customers, who purchased an average of 4.4 products per sale. Club Soda described its customers as “highly diverse”, ranging from students and passers-by to those who had travelled “long distances to visit the shop”. Overall, 60% of shoppers were female, while 80% were white. 

40% of customers were “moderating” their alcohol intake, while 40% were “alcohol free”. Although the pop-up shop closed its doors in March, Jonny Cartwright, UK sales and marketing coordinator of Athletic Brewing, described the off-licence as a “huge success”, adding: “It was a pleasure to see so many people tasting great alcohol-free drinks for the first time and I am very excited to see what is next for Club Soda in the retail space in the future.”