Reducing alcohol consumption can provide drinkers with an opportunity to improve their physical wellbeing.

But what about their mental health? And the health of the planet? At the Low2NoBev event in London last week, experts announced that they believe a combination of these drivers will help move the category forward.

‘Prime time’ for low and no

According to Felix von Hurter, co-founder of the British non-alcoholic beer start-up Freestar, health has become “incredibly” important to consumers. “And it’s not just about physical health, but also about mental health.”

86% of Millennials and Generation Z value mental health as just as important as physical health, he continued. “And the low to no category contributes to both.”

The co-founder believes that a “positive decision” to avoid alcohol consumption will have positive effects on the mind and body. And that’s good news for the category.

“The fact that people are much more aware of what they are putting into their bodies, and the effects it has both psychologically and physically, means that it is absolutely the best time for the bottom, not a category, to get into that mindset to fit. “

Britvic Soft Drinks has also seen a growing interest in “health and wellness”.

The beverage maker has a portfolio of more than 30 brands, including Robinsons and Tango, and sells PepsiCo brands Pepsi, 7UP, Lipton Ice Tea and Mountain Dew in the UK and Ireland.

“People are looking for healthier alternatives to their lifestyle, and the last 18 months of COVID have accelerated this massively,” said Katy Watts, senior channel development manager at Britvic.

“People are much more aware of what they put into their bodies and what they eat and drink.”

Of course, health and wellness mean different things to different people. While some consumers want to reduce the sugar in their diet, others are trying to increase their consumption of vitamins and probiotics, she continued. “And then other people want to aim for moderate alcohol consumption.”

Increase “Low and No” as a moderation tool

The UK alcohol education charity Drinkaware has observed “low and no alcohol” as a moderation method over the past few years and similarly has seen an increase in demand.

“We have seen in the past five years non-alcoholic and non-alcoholic products have become more acceptable as a moderation technique,” said Annabelle Bonus, Director of Evidence and Impact at Drinkaware, to delegates at this month’s Low2NoBev event in London.

Drinkaware has monitored “little and no alcohol” as a moderation method. GettyImages / KristenPrahl

Consumers seem increasingly willing to try these products, and according to Drinkaware research, drinkers are more likely to try low alcohol than 0.0% vol. Alternatives. “We know that women are more likely to try these products as a moderation technique than men, and we know that younger drinkers are more willing to try these products.”

Additionally, the charity found that drinkers classified in the lower risk category were “far more likely” to try these products as a moderation method compared to those classified as “higher risk” drinkers.

Drinkaware wants to keep an eye on that. “We want to consider how useful they are as a moderation technique and how we can make these products more acceptable for high-risk drinkers.”

Purchasing in sustainability

Another reason consumers may be attracted to the category is related to sustainability, which suggests that not only a health benefit, but also a social and environmental benefit is “little and no” benefit.

“It’s no secret that consumers buy brands that they share their emotional values ​​with,” says von Hurter of Freestar.

While the big trend in the beer trade was ten years ago, “sustainability today has become so emotional”. “It’s not just a rational thing. For young people in particular, it’s really an emotional thing. So a brand that focuses on sustainability is something people buy. “

Around this time last year, Freestar became the first alcohol-free brand to receive B Corp certification. The brand claims that their brewing process uses 80% less water than other brands and creates 70% less waste. Freestar also uses 100% recyclable materials and is committed to a net zero carbon emissions target by 2030.

Freestar was the first non-alcoholic beer company to achieve B Corp status. Image source: Freestar

Now that it has achieved B Corp status, the brand is rated annually in four areas: Community, Environment, Customers and Corporate Governance.

“It is not a big leap to imagine that people shop more consciously in a sustainable way. They are also probably more aware of what they are putting into their bodies, they are more aware of their mental health. “Alcohol-free and sustainability are actually in a really beautiful world.”

A “generation change”

However, the popularity of the category can be driven by health alone. For Britvic’s Watts, taste is still king.

“When people buy drinks, the main reason they buy is taste. If you went back maybe 5 to 10 years the availability of low and no alcohol alternatives would have been very limited, ”she told delegates, suggesting that consumers had options as limited as“ lime and soda ”.

“But now the category has expanded so much and there is such an exciting range of products that it is really cool to try these products out now. It’s something that is seen as a little different …

“I think health is a big driver, but it’s also a generation change when it comes to how cool people look.”

Hurter Freestars agrees. “We are right in the middle of something that is more than a trend. It’s a real move. And it’s a cultural change. It will not go back to binge drinking as it once was. “

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