Belle Lawrence, associate director at social media agency Immediate Future, uses Brandwatch analytics to deliver insights and uncover opportunities in low and no alcohol
Once again, the social media conversations around non-alcoholic drinks/ the sober-curious movement are peaking as we head further into Dry January. Drinks brands need to take note though: Dry January is not just for the new year.
In fact, analysis using the Brandwatch listening platform, shows that discussions exploded in lockdown in January 2021, growing steadily, then surging in autumn and winter 2022.
THE MOVEMENT IS GAINING MOMENTUM
The growth of the non-alcoholic drinks trend isn’t, on the whole, about abstention or sobriety, it’s about having more choice. In the UK, 59% of people are ordering non-alcoholic drinks on nights out when they are also drinking alcohol, compared with only 29% who are solely drinking alcoholic drinks.
Interest in low-alcohol drinks is less affected than other drinks categories by seasonality, or Dry January or Sober October, with beer being the most popular low-alcoholic drink (68%), followed by wine (19%).
The sober-curious trend is driven largely by Gen Z. Younger men (aged 18-34) are the biggest low/no-alcohol trialists and, according to data from Global Web Index, 19% of Gen Zs aged 21-plus never drink alcohol.
The conversation around price accounts for only 5% of the total non-alcoholic drinks mentions. Non-alcoholic drinks’ quality and taste are driving positive sentiment. Drinks’ smell is the most controversial topic, with 29% of mentions being negative and 25% positive.
This low/no trend is becoming a habit, moving beyond Dry Jan and Sober October to become part of a night out or time to relax at home, no matter what the month. The key takeaway for low and no-alcohol drinks brands is to talk about quality, variety and drink serves as part of occasions other than promoted sober months.
Back in October last year, consumers changed their low/no focus from spirits to cocktails and wine. Cocktails were 52% up, while gin mentions were 11% down month on month. Meanwhile, wine was up 75% and beer mentions up 34% month on month. In mocktails, Mojitos and Negronis topped the bill.
Alongside low and no-alcohol drinks, there is a rise in discussions around alcohol alternatives such as CBD, reishi, adaptogens and ashwagandha-infused drinks.
In the US, the Cali Sober approach is creating a buzz among celebrities and regular people alike. Cali Sober promotes cutting out addictive substances (such as alcohol) and replacing them with alternatives that are less harmful. In the US, Cali Sober mentions are 14% up year on year.
Keeping a close eye on social conversations provides great opportunities for brands and retailers to learn from and influence the discussion. The competition in low and no-alcohol is hotting-up, and those that can grab hearts and minds in 2023 will establish their brand as firm favourites as the market grows.