This Year’s Big Trend: Moderation
by David Klemt
Beverage-top media platform Ripples is reporting 2022’s big drink trend, focusing heavily on Gen Z imbibing habits.
The unique company produces devices that make it possible to print images atop drinks. With beverages of all types as their focus, the company is a great position to study drink trends.
Interestingly, Ripples focuses primarily on Gen Z drinking habits. However, the company’s data identifies an intriguing trend that transcends a single generation.
Let’s jump in.
Zero-proof Beverage Growth
At KRG Hospitality, we appreciate numbers; we’re a data-driven agency. Well, amongst all the stats Ripples latest findings reveal, two are massive.
First, in comparison to 2019, zero-alcohol products are up 166 percent. Second, the non-alcohol category is growing four times faster than its low-ABV counterpart.
Another impressive number? Non-alcohol spirits have grown by over 113 percent since 2020.
Per Ripples, Gen Z is driving the growth in the no-alcohol space. According to the beverage-tech company, this is likely due to social media presence.
I’m sure you read articles at least from time to time about Gen Z social media habits. Those written by their older counterparts make it seem like Gen Z doesn’t understand the risks of recording their every action.
Well, it’s highly likely that much of Gen Z would rather not have their drunken shenanigans on display on every social platform.
Values Drive Purchase Decisions
Beyond risk aversion, Ripples identifies values as key to Gen Z purchase and consumption decisions.
Generally speaking, members of Gen Z value transparency and authenticity. Brands that share those values are more likely to succeed with Gen Z.
And, again, speaking broadly, smaller, independent brands are often perceived as more transparent, authentic, and responsible. Large, mainstream brands are often seen as anything but green and responsible, never mind transparent or authentic.
Ripples posits that small indies aren’t encountering daunting barriers to entry. So, small-batch, craft non-alcohol brands are apt to find Gen Z support.
Craft sodas, RTDs offering health benefits, and zero-proof cocktails in cans or bottles are flooding the market. And they’re finding success. In fact, according to Ripples, RTD sales are up 400 percent on Drizly since 2019.
The Big Trend
As the founder of the Valuegraphics Project, Allison isn’t a fan of focusing on demographic stereotypes. Instead, he recommends a focus on values in conjunction with demographic and psychographic data.
In part, the Valuegraphics Project approach encourages business owners and operators to identify and target their customers’ values. This is, according to Allison, far more powerful than focusing on age and sex. As important is the fact that demographics tend to divide us, and stereotypes are dangerous.
So, he and the Valuegraphics Project team probably wouldn’t like all the focus on a single generation in this article and Ripples’ findings. Well, there’s some good news and it pertains to what’s likely this year’s biggest drinking trend.
Across all generations, one drinking trend is common: Moderation. An interest in no- and low-alcohol beverages is shared among all generations.
In fact, according to Ripples, 78 percent of consumers purchasing zero-proof drinks aren’t doing so exclusively. These consumers are still buying they’re favorite full-alcohol beverages.
Leveraging the moderation trend is fairly simple. The growth of all zero-proof categories means operators can succeed with alcohol-free spirits, beer, and wine.
RTD cocktails—full-, low- and zero-proof—are selling very well and work in restaurants and bars.
In short, ensure you have low-ABV and zero-alcohol versions of your full-ABV drinks on your menu. Include these in a dedicated non-alcohol section.
Operators don’t need to be afraid of guests drinking more moderately. The stereotype that guests who choose zero- or low-proof drinks are bad for the bottom line simply isn’t true.