Alcohol: Good, Bad or Both?
Forget about Dry January, the demand for non-alcoholic adult drinks has been growing stronger for some time. As people keep striving for more healthy lifestyles, alcohol consumption is clearly on the decline. How does alcohol find its place within the wellness trend?
“I’m going to quit smoking”,
“I’m cutting down carbs”,
“I’m going to start using that gym membership”
No other time of the year is more prone to wishful thinking than January. The start of the year apparently comes with a clean slate for people to better themselves, to indulge less and to commit more – this is especially true for alcohol.
Shifting trends in alcohol consumption
With a growing aspiration to lead a healthy lifestyle involving keeping physically fit and being nutritionally aware, trends in alcohol consumption are shifting. According to the latest report of the Office for National Statistics (May 2017):
- The proportion of adults who said they drink alcohol is at its lowest level since 2005[i].
- 16-24 year olds in Great Britain are now less likely to drink than any other age group[ii].
- Getting drunk has become less socially acceptable among young generations[iii]
The image of “boozy Britain” seems to need an update, as lifestyle and economic constraints (in 2016, the UK was the third most expensive country for alcoholic beverages in Europe) influence the average consumption. What’s more, the Internet and its virtual world also play a vital part in this according to Dr James Nicholls, director of research and policy development for alcohol research UK, who states that “you don’t need to drink to hang out online.”
We have identified two main consumer mindsets that reflect the impact of health and wellness on alcohol consumption.
Mindset #1: “all or nothing”
When it comes to alcohol and being healthy, things are slightly more Manichaean than for food alone when individuals adopt this mindset: in a dual approach to things, there is no grey area, you’re either good or bad . . . either health conscious and not drinking, or choosing to indulge in something unapologetically ‘bad’. Alcohol is seen as an indulgence, making normally healthy individuals go for the ‘real thing’ when they give in, refusing to compromise on taste, sugar, calories or alcohol intake.
Mindset #2: “healthy pleasures”
The second consumer mindset pushes individuals to get the best of both worlds by taking part in drinking occasions while looking for what they see as healthier options. As a result, “the market for low and no alcohol is thriving”, according to Andrew Turner, director of wine at Eisberg, as “consumers are increasingly on the lookout for quality alcohol free options that don’t compromise on taste and fit the bill for any occasion”[iv].
Key trends in the world of ‘Better for you’ alcohol
The claim that a moderate intake of red wine will do you some good[v] may be the most popular belief, but there are many other possibilities for healthier alcohol products and/or healthier consumption. We have identified 7 main trends in the healthier alcohol world.
- Less & lighter – Taking out alcohol, sugar, calories – from lighter to zero.
- Portioned to help me stay in control.
- Added benefit highlighting the functional health and mood benefits.
- Craft at the heart of production, ingredients and presentation.
- The new non-alcoholic kids on the block adopting completely different approaches and finding new narratives for non-alcoholic drinks.
- Premiumisation through high quality ingredients and expertise.
- Counterbalancing the nasties with healthy, nutrient packed accompaniments.
According to the latest campaigns around Christmas and New Year, major players in the category like Heineken and Budweiser seem to have captured some of these narratives quite effectively.
If you’d like to find out how your brand can capitalise on them as well, please contact Ciaran:
[i] 64.2% of adults aged 16+ vs. 56.9% in 2016, in “Adult drinking habits in Great Britain: 2005 to 2016”, ONS, May 2017
[ii] However, their consumption on heaviest drinking days is higher than for any other ages.
[iii] In 2016, 19% of young people in the UK said it was OK to try getting drunk to see what it was like, compared to 31% in 2003 according to “Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people”, Office for National Statistics, November 2017. In 2014, 38% of this population had reported trying alcohol once, down from 62% in 1988 according to https://www.alcoholconcern.org.uk/alcohol-statistics
[iv] “Just the tonic?”, Natalie Brown, The Grocer, December 9th 2017
[v] “Red wine: a drink to your heart”, T. S. Mohamed Saleem and S. Darbar Basha, in Journal of Cardiovascular Disease Research, 2010 October-December, pp. 171-176