Low alcohol glee

January is the month where we live sans alcohol. Many of us use this as fuel to take up a new sport, like running or weight training. Yet, the month isn’t being touted solely as a way to detox following the over-indulgence of the holiday season and projected as a way to improve one’s health. Many are using the month to flex their taste buds.

The time has come for many people to partake in the challenge of a month without alcohol due to the variety of low alcohol, low calorie drinks coming through. Each new year comes a wave of consumers eager to pump the brakes on their alcohol habit and to start the new year off with a lower-alcohol and lower-calorie count. Low and no ABV beverages are so en vogue, they are shaping the Western Europe spirits sector, says GlobalData.

As trends towards health and wellness continue to mount, producers in Western Europe are expanding their portfolios with low and no ABV products. Led by the beer and cider sector in the 2010s, the 2020s is being heralded as the decade of ‘NoLo’ spirits as, consumers are more determined than ever to maintain a healthy, moderate lifestyle.

The low ABV trend was first championed by the beer and cider sector. According to GlobalData’s research, between 2015 and 2020, innovations in beer and cider products with an ABV equal to and below 0.5% grew by 8.4% and 9.3%, respectively, across Western Europe, and these developments will help illustrate what is next for spirits.

In fact, spirit producers are raising the bar, with Pernod Ricard announcing release of its 20% ABV ‘light’ Beefeater Gin and Martini & Rossi introducing a ‘Floreale’, non-alcoholic vermouth of the original Martini brand.

Beer brands have leveraged the ‘healthier’ and ‘more responsible’ position of their low ABV offerings to promote mental health awareness – a road spirits producers are likely to follow, notes GlobalData. 

In terms of consumer appeal, GlobalData’s 2019 consumer survey indicated that over half (54%) of European respondents find “alcoholic drinks with low or no alcohol” somewhat or very appealing.

Corona now has a Vitamin D-infused alcohol-free beer. WhistlePig is serving up 0% alcohol whiskey shots. 

Consumers remain extremely experimental, with premium innovations driving this trend. NoLo alcohol spirits have a premium positioning, with a natural halo offering the consumer a sophisticated drinking experience. In addition, brands are taking advantage of emerging opportunities.

Atopia, the award-winning no/lo spirits brand, has identified a new growing moderation movement of drinkers: ‘Gen Free’ – a 10 million strong collective of 25-40 year old alcohol drinkers (18.9% of the UK adult population) who would consider actively moderating their alcohol intake and going against pressures surrounding drinking culture, despite sober shaming from society.

The new research comes as part of Atopia’s mission to liberate Gen Free, advocating social acceptance of moderation without compromise for this movement. 

According to Atopia brand manager Jen Farrell, Gen Free are those who actively choose to moderate, beyond the ‘socially acceptable’ months of abstinence. They enjoy socialising with friends and going out to events but unlike previous generations, they drink less, value their health more and see moderating their alcohol intake as a way of having a positive control on their lives.”

A breed of drinker has emerged who want producers to  match their values and their social aspirations without the alcohol.

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