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Dry January: The Low & No Alcohol Drinks Marketing Revolution

By Clement Ma, Account Director at PRECIOUS


It's Dry January - not that I have to tell you with the onslaught of drinks advertising all around.


Abstaining from alcohol in January has now become a global phenomenon. 58% more consumers are drinking no and low ABV drinks than last year. No wonder January has become the hottest month for marketing in this rapidly growing drinks category - but the movement has now spread beyond Dry January and Sober October to a year-round consciousness for mindful drinking.


Although the low & no alcohol drinks category still only accounts for 1.3% of the UK’s drinks market, the category has grown to become a £63.7m industry in the GB on-trade alone and shows no signs of slowing with industry experts predicting continued rapid growth. We’re all looking to lead more healthy lifestyles with 36% of consumers claiming to be moderating their alcohol consumption, met by a plethora of new drinks brands popping up to satisfy this growing demand. 

As the low & no alcohol category hots up, how can drinks brands attract and maintain consumers? 


PREMIUM POSITIONING & EXPERIENCE

“£25 is an absolute rip-off for a soft drink”

This is a common gripe you hear at the bar when someone is offered a non-alcoholic drink and it’s not hard to see why.


Most people are thinking of soft drinks, juices or sodas when they choose not to drink and when they are presented with something that costs the same as alcoholic spirits the perceived quality needs to be made clear.


We're seeing the leading low & no alcohol brands communicating their positioning as a quality alternative to alcoholic drinks, not merely substitute to traditional alcoholic drinks. Regardless of whether you're drinking (alcohol) or not, the consumer can have exactly the same experience - the drink looks, tastes and is garnished exactly the same as the alcoholic alternatives (some may argue even better!).

Seedlip (one of the relatively well known brands in the category) does exactly this with it’s “what to drink when not drinking” slogan. Consumers are prepared to pay more for a quality product - just look at the food industry where people are chalking up in excess of £10 for a fresh vegan kale salad or £6 protein shakes.


STAND FOR SOMETHING: MOVING BEYOND THE HEALTH ANGLE 

Consumers interested in the low & no category are already inherently health conscious and although brands should focus on communicating their health proposition, they need to go beyond this to stand out. 

Just like any other brand, storytelling and content will play a critical role in building brand awareness and developing loyalty. Consumers are drawn to brands that can communicate their brand story, mission and purpose - they are looking for something to become a part of. 


Still early days, but we’re seeing brands carve out their own space in the low & no category: 

  • You get the same flavour of a delicious cocktail without the alcohol with Seedlip

  • Caleño Spirits brings the fun into drinking non-alcohol drinks

  • Stryyk offers an uncompromising solution that look and taste just like their alcoholic counterparts, without the alcohol

  • Everleaf Spirits brings an aperitif that is natural and sustainably sourced

The success of brand storytelling and education doesn’t happen overnight and can take time to reap rewards but brands not engaging in storytelling are at risk of blending into the crowd in a competitive category hotting up with new entrants every week.


CLOSING THE CIRCLE BETWEEN CONTENT AND SALES


The low & no consumer is younger than the typical drinker, driven by a desire to cut back (not necessarily abstinence) on overall alcohol consumption without compromising on drink quality. While drinks brands have traditionally focused on developing the on-trade, looking to get their drinks stocked in popular bars, restaurants and supermarkets, there is an growing uptake of non-alcoholic drinks at home and entertaining. 


This is a trend that extends to the food and drink industry as a whole - it is now the fastest growing product category for sales online. Consumers are looking to replicate that great drinking experience in their own homes - and this represents a huge opportunity for brands to grow their off-trade offering. 


Although the alcohol industry has been slow to embrace digital and eCommerce, it is now quickly gaining traction and brands neglecting eCommerce are at risk of being left behind. Each brand’s eCommerce offering will be largely dependent on the brand - whether it be pursuing it through 3rd party vendors, Amazon, specialist retailers or setting up their own online shop. In typical fashion, we've even seen D2C alcohol brands launching.

Consumers are always looking for content that inspires them, brands have the ability to close the circle between the content they are putting out and product sales with their eCommerce offerings. 


Industry drinks giants LVMH have launched online lifestyle and sales portal Clos19, you can find most prominent drinks brands selling on Amazon or specialist eCommerce retailers.


You'd be mistaken thinking eCommerce is just limited to big brands, up and coming brands are building out eCommerce capabilities too. Inspired by Seedlip mocktail recipes? You can buy directly on their website.


The way in which a brand adopts eCommerce will ultimately depend on each brand and its priorities but one thing's for sure - by neglecting eCommerce brands risk losing out on a unique opportunity to recruit and convert consumers.


About the Author:

Clement is an Account Director at PRECIOUS, where he specialises in helping brands leverage content to build brand awareness and drive sales online.


PRECIOUS is a content marketing and digital eCommerce agency that specialises in brand storytelling for food and drink brands - get in touch to find out more about our innovative approach to content, campaigns and eCommerce.

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