Key stats for the media

The Mindful Drinking trend is here to stay

There are plenty of people cutting down or quitting, and who want better non-alcoholic drink options. The success of Club Soda’s first two Mindful Drinking Festivals in 2017 showed this (Summer 2017 and Winter 2017). 

The first Club Soda Mindful Drinking Festival in August brought 2,500 people together to try the best non-alcoholic beers and wines, and adult soft drinks. Kantar, the world’s leading customer data and research for brands, said in its Cultural Insights this about the Mindful Drinking Festival:
“the festival proves the popularity of mindful drinking … the event will attract the huge numbers of mindful drinkers in and around London. We hope that other alcohol brands will follow in their [Seedlip’s] footsteps and respond positively to this new, emergent movement.”

And the statistics back us up:

Mindful drinkers want better options

The Club Soda Guide is the result of ongoing research, looking at how to change the behaviour of pubs and bars to the growing number of people not drinking or moderating their alcohol consumption. Some highlights are:

  • 73% of those surveyed would like to see new and unusual flavours of drinks in the pub
  • 66% want lower sugar options
  • Over half want more availability of non-alcoholic beers too
  • 57% confirm that the choice of low and no alcohol drinks does influence their decision of which venues to go to
  • Cost rarely makes an appearance in the answers, indicating that most customers would be willing to pay more for a healthier, more adult-feeling soft drink.

You can read the full report here.

All customers want choice

In the summer of 2018, 62% of Irish adults planned on drinking non-alcoholic drinks at social events. Almost 3 in 10 (28%) would substitute a non-alcoholic version of an alcoholic drink (source: Checkout; and our Summer 2018 Festival saw the UK launch for Silk Tree Botanics, non-alcoholic Irish spirit from Dublin!).

According to Mintel’s Alcoholic Drinks Review, 27% of Britons are drinking more low- or no-alcohol drinks compared to a few years ago. And the figure is 42% of those aged 18-24 and 45% of those aged 25-34 (source: The Guardian).

UK findings from LWC Drinks 2016 tell us that:

  • 62% of customers want to find options available on a menu, with 48% looking at the back of the bar
  • 83% of customers rate lower sugar options as important
  • 1 in 5 customers say there is not enough choice on offer
  • 29% of customers choose a non-alcoholic drink because they don’t fancy an alcoholic drink at the time

The drinks industry is catching up

At a drinks industry event in October 2017, Dan Gasper, chief operating officer of Distill Ventures (Diageo’s fund for new drinks) stated that ‘the biggest opportunity in the drinks industry is the emergence of the non-alcoholic category’.

Club Soda was invited to organise two roundtable discussions at the Non-Alcoholic Beverage Strategy Congress in Barcelona in February 2018 – you can read more here.

Low and no alcohol beer is big news

Nielsen, the market research company says that alcohol-free beer is the fastest-growing trend in the drinks market. Sales jumped by over a quarter (27%) over the past year (to September 2018): that is more than 43 million pints of non-alcoholic beer. Sales of lower strength beer (between 0.5% and 3.5% ABV) were also up by 16% at the same time. (Source: The Times)

In summer 2018, non-alcoholic beer sales were up 58% compared to the year before (source: Kantar Worldpanel).

Last year, sales of low and non-alcoholic beer grew by 20.5% over the 12 months to July 2017.

World’s biggest brewer, AB InBev, plans to grow low and no alcohol beer from 8% of their total sales in 2017 to 20% by 2025 (low alcohol is here defined as under 3.5% ABV; source: FoodDive).

For Danish brewer Carlsberg, alcohol-free beer volume jumped by 26 per cent across Western Europe in the Summer of 2018 (compared to summer 2017), and previously, in their annual results for 2017 they said that alcohol-free beer production had grown by 15% in Western Europe from the year before.

Non-alcoholic beer may have had a bad reputation, but that is fast disappearing: Mintel says that “over one quarter of German consumers (27 percent) agree that low/no alcohol beer tastes just as good as full-strength beer”

Nanny State 0.5% ale is Brewdog’s 4th biggest selling beer (source: Morning Advertiser).

Alcohol free spirits are coming

Alcohol free spirits, or distilled botanicals (this type of drink is still finding its name!) are one of the fastest growing segment of the entire drinks industry. Statistics are still rare, as everything is still so new in this area, but we do know that the value of alcohol free spirits sold in the UK grew from £17.5 million to £25.9 million in the year to June 2018 (Source: CGA, quoted in the Morning Advertiser). This is still only about 0.3% of the total spirits sales, but it will grow fast.

Is low and no alcohol wine and cider next?

So alcohol free beer is already big, but what about wine and cider? We think they will soon catch up:

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association says that “low-alcohol wine category has increased 10 times since 2009 to around 3% of the market – that’s more than 37 million bottles, worth over £70m. Producers are responding to consumer demand for products that fit changing lifestyle habits” (source: The Guardian).

According to Nielsen, the value of non-alcoholic wine [sales] in the UK rose by 66% last year (in 2018, source: The Drinks Business).

Pubs and bars need to step up too

A November 2018 article in trade magazine Inapub listed some of the key statistics for pubs and bars:

“Half of people now moderate their alcohol intake; as few as one in 50 young adults describe themselves as a frequent drinker, and more than a million extra people have chosen to abstain from alcohol entirely in the last four years (all figures Ipsos).”

And there’s more: “15 per cent of people say they would visit pubs more often if there were better non-alcoholic drinks available (Poplus Pub Survey, March 2017).”

So all licensed venues need to stay on top of these trends as well, not just for their customers’ sake, but for their own bottom line. Club Soda will be launching their Club Soda Guide in January 2019, listing the best drinks and venues for mindful drinkers. You can see the Club Soda Guide website here.

Quotes from dudes in the know

“It’s no longer enough just to have regular juices and sodas available – people want to drink better things and we can see this being an increasingly important part of our market. The success of things like Sober October and Dry January show that there’s definitely a market out there.”

Paul Mathew, co-owner The Arbitrager

“Do not underestimate the alcohol free market. As people have become more savvy with what they eat, they also look at what they are drinking. Our food menu has got plenty of vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and calorie-light options these days, and so our drink menu has the same kind of options.”

James Daley, manager of The Draft House

“Many people don’t drink or don’t drink alcohol all of the time but they are underserved – who wants to drink cola all of the time?”

Gellert Krizso, Bar Manager of Grain Store

“The industry now needs to innovate to remain relevant and respond to changes in consumer tastes and drinking habits. We need to make sure as consumers if we want to have a wider choice that we make our voices heard and the industry responses to that.”

David Wilson from the Beer and Pub Association