Younger generations are drinking less alcohol or not drinking at all. A recent BMC study shows almost a third of 16-25 year olds in the UK say they do not drink alcohol. This reflects trends across Europe and the US.
Rather than be alarmed about what this means for the long-term future of the alcohol industry, or dismiss it as a passing fad, companies should embrace and understand this trend.
The signs of changing times have been emerging and gathering pace for a good few years. The growing appreciation of fine wines, artisan spirits and craft beers are all a precursor to new attitudes towards how people drink alcohol.
Consumers are taking a greater interest in the ingredients and provenance of what they’re drinking. The emphasis is now much more on quality and flavour. This is driving the trend of mindful drinking, where people take a more considered view of low or no-alcohol consumption. They’re now much more focused on responsibly enjoying drinks and savouring tastes.
This creates new opportunities for the drinks industry. Our own Franklin & Sons research in the UK shows younger generations are willing to pay more on drinks overall, and almost half of under 35s surveyed say they are likely to order a non-alcoholic drink on a night out.
However, if drinks companies want to connect with mindful drinkers, they’ll need to do much more than just attempt to reduce or remove alcohol content from existing drinks. These types of drinks can often be seen as a ‘second-best’. This won’t work with younger generations. They want to be confident in their choices and don’t want to feel like they’re making a compromise.
Mindful drinkers want drinks and serves defined by beautiful tastes and depth of character. To meet this demand, the industry needs to take cues from the premium-end of the alcohol market. Master distillers, craft brewers and top mixologists put flavour infusions and expressions at the centre of their product innovation.
Discerning drinkers appreciate the skilled mixing of a cocktail, the measured and time-honoured finish of an artisan spirit or the deep complexity of a wine. There’s no reason why a soft drink can’t offer the same level of taste satisfaction and stylish serve.
This belief fuelled the innovation for the new Franklin & Sons’ range of non-alcoholic infused sodas. We based the depth of flavours on the same complex taste of a high-end cocktail and created the drinks to be served in a tall wine glass, over ice with a fruit garnish. As well as a great tasting non-alcoholic drink, the serving experience, either in a bar or at home, is enhanced.
Furthermore, the drinks are made using natural ingredients and are just 49 calories per 275ml bottle. This appeals to those paying more attention to what they are drinking. Synthetic, lab-engineered flavourings and alternatives to natural sugar don’t fit with mindful drinking choices.
It’s not uncommon to hear people, whether its experts like sommeliers or enthusiasts trying a new drink, spending time passionately talking about how an alcoholic drink tastes. Currently, you just don’t get the same level of appreciation when it comes to soft drinks and low-alcohol choices.
This has hampered innovation in this part of the category, which will need to change as mindful drinkers seek-out more sophisticated serves. A no-alcohol beer or a glass of a syrupy carbonated soft drink with a limp slice of lemon simply won’t excite and interest mindful drinkers. They’re craving premium flavours and ingredients that give them positive pause for thought and will pay a premium for these.
About Global Brands: In the UK off trade, Global Brands’ drinks are stocked by the majority of the country’s major multiple grocery retailers, convenience stores, premium retailers, and cash and carries. The company is also a leading supplier of drinks to the UK on trade, with its drinks sold in many of the UK’s major high street bar chains, hotel operators, late night venues and large regional brewers.
Looking beyond the UK, Global Brands’ drinks are sold in 57 countries around the globe. The company prides itself on market-leading innovation: In 2015, it launched a range of premium quality tonics, mixers and soft drinks, Franklin & Sons. These are now sold in 35 countries globally. In 2017, the company evolved the RTD category to create a new offer of alcoholic soda, the Crooked Beverage Co, which is made using real fruit juice and no artificial sweeteners or flavours to provide consumers with an alternative to fruit ciders and craft beers.