Demand for low-and-no alcohol substitutes is on the rise in the UK.
What’s behind this change in consumer sentiment? And what does this mean for Christmas trade?
After moving along slowly for years as a niche segment of the market, low-and-no alcohol drinks have experienced a major boom. Since 2021, low-and-no alcohol sales have skyrocketed by 48%. And, unlike a recently opened bottle of prosecco, the trend shows no signs of fizzling out.
From the rise in teetotalism to a growing push towards moderation, there are several factors behind this major move in the market. With the run-up to Christmas in full swing, this is an exciting time for brands with products in the game.
Changing attitudes to alcohol consumption
The switch to low-and-no alcohol options is being driven primarily by one group: young adults.
Gone are the days when coming of age at 18 meant an almost certain increase in a person’s alcohol consumption. Today, significant numbers are choosing to drink less than previous generations did.
Much of this can be put down to the emphasis younger people across the UK place on health. Nowadays, more people (particularly the young) see wellness as a top priority. For this growing group, wellness encompasses fitness, nutrition, and mental health; alcohol can have a detrimental effect on all three.
So, as a result, one in three young adults (aged between 18 and 24) have cut down on alcohol consumption.
However, it would be simplistic to suggest that the shift is entirely down to the very youngest adults. Let’s take wine as an example.
According to recent research, just over a quarter (26%) of all wine drinkers in the UK are aged between 18 and 39. While this may not sound that low, the COO of Wine Intelligence, Richard Halstead, has highlighted that it’s “a lot lower than it used to be.” So, the change has been noted in age groups up to middle age as well.
Now, half of the UK’s wine drinkers are over 55 years old. But, in a society that is increasingly interested in both physical and mental health, it’s very possible that this age group will start looking to lower-alcohol substitutes too.
The low-and-no alcohol trend
Given current market trends, it’s hardly surprising that the low-and-no alcohol segment is booming.
Since last year, sales have almost doubled. In the context of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, this is a real testament to the strength of the market. You see, while the products in question are either low in alcohol or completely free of it, they are often priced similarly to their alcoholic counterparts.
This just shows that people don’t want a standard soft drink when they’re out with friends, unwinding at the end of a long week, or celebrating. And that they’re willing to pay extra for a better, more sophisticated experience.
One reason could be that people want a drinks option that’s just that bit more special for occasions. Or, like vegans and vegetarians who turn to plant-based substitutes of their favourite meat dishes, consumers want to be reminded of the feeling they would get when drinking alcohol.
And, for many, it’s not solely about health. Some turn to low-and-no alcohol options to avoid hangovers, while others do so to drive home from social events. In some cases, a person will switch to no-and-low midway through a night to cut down on overall alcohol consumption. Meanwhile, some choose to drink low-and-no spirits, beers, or wines exclusively.
‘Tis the season to be sober?
With people turning to low-and-no products for a variety of different reasons, it’s an exciting time for brands with a finger in the pie. From SMEs with specialty offerings to established organisations that have released alternatives to existing product lines, there’s plenty of potential for profit.
This is especially true as we head into the festive period. Notorious as a time for making merry, this year it looks like the Christmas spirit will, for many, be alcohol free.
From gifting to celebrating at home, consumers will have plenty of reason to shop for low-and-no alcohol products through December.
But the trend certainly won’t be stopping there. For one thing, Dry January is on the horizon. And after that? Chances are that more people will begin buying low-and-no products on a regular basis. This is, in other words, a great time to be entering or already in the market.
Make the most of the low-and-no alcohol trend
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