And 43% of those surveyed said they had tried alcohol-free beer for the first time since the start of COVID-19; while 61% have had alcohol-free beer during COVID-19 because they want to cut down their alcohol intake.
The Dutch brewer launched alcohol-free Heineken 0.0 in the US last year, following on from its European launch in 2017.
While Heineken saw brand Heineken volumes decline 2.5% during the first six months of the 2020 – hit like many other brands as a result of the pandemic – Heineken 0.0 grew double digit with the company noting particular strength in the US.
Its US survey of millennials sought to shed light on the category in the US to track the alcohol-free trend.
Early evening occasion
Heineken USA surveyed 2,000 Americans aged 21-39 in September and October to see how drinking and wellness habits have changed.
The average respondent in this group exercised four times a week; highlighted the importance of having a work/life balance; making healthy food decisions; and finding time to exercise.
In terms of consumption behavior, consumers are most likely to turn to an alcohol-free beer early in the evening, at around 6.30pm.
Out of the respondents, 42% said they were likely to choose an alcohol-free beer because it allows them to drink in moderation, while 41% said they liked that alcohol-free beer allows them to drink with friends without consuming alcohol (61% said they would be more likely to go and meet friends at a bar if they knew the bar served an alcohol free beer).
A number of respondents (45%) admitted they feel pressured to drink on first dates; with men more likely to feel this way (50% compared to 39%). And 59% of drinkers said they’d be more likely to go to a bar for a first date if they knew the bar served alcohol-free beer.
Meredith Kiss, senior brand manager, Heineken USA, said the results did not come as a surprise, given the growing interest in no and low alcohol options in the US.
“Based on recent consumer trends we’ve been seeing in the market, the results from our survey were in the direction we expected and COVID-19 has only accelerated this sentiment,” she told BeverageDaily.
“We’ve seen the consumption of non-alcoholic beverages continue to rise before the start of the pandemic – as we launched Heineken 0.0 in the U.S. in 2019 – so we are not surprised to see that more consumers are actively trying non-alcoholic beverages.
“However, one of the findings that stood out to us was that 61% of consumers would be more likely to go to a bar to meet up with friends if they knew the bar served an alcohol-free beer. This shows consumers want options in classic alcohol consumption occasions.”
Kiss says Heineken 0.0 is on track to double volumes this year compared to last year's launch year.
“Since launching in the US, Heineken 0.0 has received incredible interest from consumers,” she said.
“In fact, in 2020 we’re on track to double the amount of cases sold in 2019. The growth in the non-alcoholic space has been attributed to a movement towards holistic wellbeing and mindful drinking, which we have seen a large interest in from US consumers. We expect to see this segment continue to grow.”