As the Holidays Approach, is There Demand for Non-alcohol?
by David Klemt
There’s no denying that non-alcohol is a growing beverage category, but does the data support the hype and operator consideration?
By now, there’s really no excuse for failing to give non-alc serious consideration. When planning menus, operators should treat non-alc as much more than an afterthought.
Admitting fully that I’m repeating myself, giving alcohol-free beverages the same attention as their full-proof counterparts is crucial. Doing so is smart business; non-alc is capable of driving traffic and revenue.
And then there’s the guest experience element of the non-alc equation. Hospitality is about service, about ensuring every guest is comfortable. Giving guests who are abstaining from alcohol consumption a different experience than others isn’t hospitality—it’s alienation. Not only is that the antithesis of hospitality, it’s bad business.
Reviewing Veylinx data shows that non-alc is worthy of operators’ time and consideration. In my opinion, it’s even more important that non-alc menus and offerings be dialed in now. After all, the end-of-year holidays on our doorsteps.
The infamous Busiest Bar Night of the Year is nearly here. From November 23 through New Year’s Eve, people will be meeting up with family and friends. Many will also be seeking an escape from the stress of those gathering and the holidays.
Non-alcohol by the Numbers
One of the most important points made by Veylinx is this: Abstinence from alcohol isn’t limited to “social media” events like Dry January and Sober October.
Rather, consumers are choosing to abstain from alcohol throughout the year for myriad reasons. Specifically, Veylinx data reveals that more than 75 percent of Americans have abstained from alcohol consumption at some point for at least one moment.
Further, 46 percent of Americans plan to reduce their consumption of alcohol “right now.” As in, the holidays may be upon us but they’re actively working on a plan to drink less, not more.
Two major factors motivating this behavioral change are mental well-being and physical health. In service of those factors, more than half of LDA drinkers in America plan to replace beverage alcohol with non-alc beverages.
Interestingly, Veylinx finds that these consumers will pay more for non-alc alternatives in comparison to the general population.
Drilling down further, this shift in consumer behavior appears to be driven by a handful of consumer types:
- 21- to 35-year-old consumers;
- “light” drinkers; and
- consumers who have set aside alcohol consumption for one month or more.
Speaking of the first group, demand for RTDs is 48 percent greater in comparison to those aged 35 or older. Add CBD to RTD and the demand among the 21 to 35 cohort grows by 18 percent.
However, not all non-alc growth comes from the 21-to-35 group. Non-alc beverages with mood boosters see an increase in demand from the 35-plus group of 29 percent.
In short, if an operator is ignoring the non-alc consumer, they’re harming their own business and reputation. Alcohol-free RTDs, cocktails, beer, and wine are growing.
Savvy operators will leverage that growth.