Seedlip embraces global momentum in low to no alcohol: 'Consumers are becoming more health-conscious and demanding of quality’
The UK brand launched in the US three years ago. And since then, the response has been ‘incredible’, according to founder Ben Branson.
Educating consumers as to the ingredients and process that goes into the spirit is key to its success in the US, he tells us.
A novel product
Seedlip is considered a pioneer in the non-alcoholic category and distinguishes itself as being an original, novel product - not a mimic or replacement for alcoholic beverages.
“It was a deliberate choice to not mimic the flavor profiles of traditional spirits when creating Seedlip,” explains Branson. “When Seedlip launched in 2015, it arguably kicked off an exciting trajectory for the no & low alcohol category.
“I made the conscious decision to avoid juniper as an ingredient, so as to not be compared to a gin. When you try to create an alternative to something already in existence, you’re inevitably inviting expectations–consciously or subconsciously–that leave room for criticism or disappointment.”
Being a novel product means it can be trickier to explain the concept to consumers – but it’s still important for the brand to carve out this point of differentiation, says Branson. “It’s harder, with regards to education, when there’s no benchmark or basis of comparison, but it’s imperative.”
Seedlip’s function is to replace the base alcohol of a cocktail: as a ‘complex, flavorful liquid that can be built upon in various ways’. And highlighting the brand’s craftmanship is important if the brand wants to avoid being labelled as a ‘glorified soft drink’, says Branson.
“It’s truly about education, into which we’ve invested a lot of energy and resources,” said Branson.
“Seedlip is made by way of a bespoke six-week maceration, distillation, filtration, and blending process for each of the six botanical ingredients (sourced globally for highest quality) within each variant. The proprietary production process that we’ve developed is intricate and time-consuming, and understanding what it means that Seedlip is a distilled non-alcoholic spirit (not just a ‘flavored water’) is pivotal–but also difficult for consumers to wrap their heads around, again, because it’s novel.”
Seedlip launched in the US three years ago and has secured listings at bars, restaurants, hotels and retailers nationwide. The team has grown from two to 20 people, and opened an office in Los Angeles as well as a temporary retail space. It’s also embarked on several major partnerships, events and campaigns to grow its recognition in the US.
The US’ low to no alcohol market, however, is different to the UK’s, being less developed and currently with fewer options in the marketplace. This, however, is growing, with Branson seeing the same trends that pioneered the category in the UK replicated abroad.
“In the UK, there are 70+ brands in the space now, while there are less than 20 in the States,” he said. “But there’s a universal belief in good hospitality, inclusivity and moderation. And on a global-scale, we’re becoming more health-conscious, more public, more demanding of quality, and more busy, with little time to waste – all of which, I believe, underlies the culture shifts driving the movement.”