The rise of the sober social

‘Sober-curiosity’ is a trend that has grown rapidly these past few years in the UK, as consumers increasingly seek out products and experiences that embrace the fun of social drinking, minus the alcohol.

The market for no and low alcoholic drinks is predicted to grow by 32% between 2018 and 2022, mirroring a rise in the more health conscious consumer. Ashleigh Phelps, Brand Manager at Heineken US says “people are becoming more conscious of what they’re putting in their bodies”, this is prompting big brands, including Heineken, Carlsberg and Peroni Libera, to extend their zero alcohol offerings without compromising on taste. Our own research into the relationship between health and alcohol supports these findings, as consumers expressed that they increasingly looked for no or low adult drink options but still expected a sophisticated drink that delivered on great taste.

With the rise of zero alcohol beers and mocktails, the next natural step is finding somewhere to drink them. Whilst a growing number of upmarket bars are improving their non-alcoholic options and a select number of venues, such as Redemption, offer soft drinks exclusively, few mainstream brands and chains have provided booze free social spaces until now…

Cue Sainsbury’s who, just a few of weeks ago held their first pop-up no and low pub – The Clean Vic. Open to the public for only two days in London, the pop-up was a great success with one customer saying “it’s so nice to see a wide range of alcohol-free drinks and it still having a good pub environment”.

The pop-up comes as Sainsbury’s has seen a 31.8% increase in sales of no and low alcoholic products in the last twelve weeks, proving that the market is rapidly growing as consumers continue to seek out sober experiences with adult soft drink options in both the on-trade and off-trade.

The way these beverages were presented on bar was part of The Clean Vic’s success – made with enthusiasm and just as fashionable as alcoholic drinks. Building such experiences is vital to developing the sociable and elevated brand images of such products. Drinking a zero alcohol beer at a bar would come with all the same experiences; the enjoyment of holding a cold bottle and the uncompromised taste.

The alcohol-free spirit, Seedlip holds testimony to this, having successfully built a sophisticated brand world, and worked with bar staff to create intricate cocktails that consumers are willing to pay as much for as their alcoholic counterparts. Presentation is key here, making adult soft drinks more fashionable and mainstream in the world of social drinking.

So can we expect more of these pop-ups and a greater selection of exciting soft drinks in historically alcohol dominated venues and occasions? Absolutely. This is a trend that isn’t stopping anytime soon.

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