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The peak drinking festive season may be upon us, but operators and suppliers also need to react fast to the growing trend for no and low alcohol drinks—and get ready to capitalise on what could be the biggest ever Dry January in 2020.

An exclusive new report from CGA, ‘Understanding Moderation in the On-Trade’, reveals the huge scale of the opportunity for businesses across the out-of-home drinking sector. It shows that one in three (32%) adults has tried a no or low alcohol beer, wine or spirit in the last six months. That equates to some 15.5 million consumers—and another 8.9 million say they find the category appealing.

The trend is already in play across pubs, bars and restaurants. At the start of 2019, CGA’s Business Leaders’ Survey identified no and low alcohol options as a key drinks trend this year—well ahead of major categories like craft beer, micro-distillery spirits and artisan coffee.

CGA’s data shows that sales have increased by 48% in the last 12 months, to make it a £60m-a-year category—and growth for no-alcohol options has been even higher at nearly 80%. As previously reported, alcohol-free mocktails have been a particularly thriving segment.

With only 9% of those who drink no and low options classifying themselves as teetotal, it is clear that these drinks are an alternative for people who want to moderate their intake, rather than a permanent substitute. A growing interest in health is one of the chief reasons why people steer clear of alcoholic drinks on occasions—and sizeable numbers say they experiment with no and low choices to see what they taste like. Both these motivations provide excellent opportunities for brands to spark interest and build loyalty.

But while a flood of new no and low alcohol beers, wines, spirits and cocktails have arrived on the market lately, CGA’s new report reveals huge headroom for growth—starting in the new year. More than four million people signed up to the Dry January campaign in 2019, and that number is expected to rise in 2020, pushing no and low alcohol drinks firmly into the mainstream.

Operators and suppliers who want to take advantage will need to ensure their ranging, marketing and pricing are all on point. CGA’s report highlights the need for pubs and bars to blend new drinking choices with established consumer favourites to help drive volume. For suppliers meanwhile, the report delves into the incremental opportunity that the category may provide, the threats it may hold and the balance that is required within portfolios between alcoholic and alternative options.

CGA’s senior consumer research manager Charlie Mitchell said: “Our report shows there is huge potential for operators and suppliers to capitalise on the growing number of moderators. With even more people likely to cut back on booze after the Christmas excesses, producers, operators and suppliers are queuing up to jump on the opportunity with an ever-increasing range of no and low alcohol alternatives. With many consumers eager to trial them out of curiosity, along with the evident health drivers associated, the challenge will be to build loyalty and repeat trial in a market where it is increasingly hard to stand out.”

The first-of-its-kind report includes many more insights into the size of the category, the consumers who are drinking no and low alcohol types, what they think of the options on the market, and how, where and when operators and suppliers should target them. It is based on CGA’s exclusive BrandTrack survey of the habits and views of 5,000 British adults.

‘Understanding Moderation in the On-Trade’ is available to purchase now. For more information, please contact Charlie Mitchell.


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