Consumers are moving outside their cocktail comfort zones – and that’s good news for low to no, says Bacardi

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Bacardi predicts 400% growth for the no and low alcohol category over the next four years. Pic: getty/maximgesenko
Bacardi predicts 400% growth for the no and low alcohol category over the next four years. Pic: getty/maximgesenko

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Consumers will move outside their cocktail comfort zones in 2021 - in no small part due to increased confidence in at-home bartending during the pandemic - and with that will come an increased interest in exploring low to no options, says Bacardi.

The spirits giant - which is behind brands such as Bacardi, Grey Goose, Bombay Sapphire and Martini - is predicting 400% growth in the no and low alcohol category over the next four years. And one of the key macro trends it identifies for cocktails in 2021 is the increased prominence of low or no alcohol options.  

Meanwhile, the collision of two macro trends – an increased focus on functional ingredients thanks to the pandemic and the low to no alcohol movement – is also leading to the growth of ‘functional elixirs'.

Spritz culture

Sober-curious consumers are emerging as a ‘strong cohort’, says Bacardi. “Similar to flexitarians, who take a flexible approach to vegan and vegetarian diets, these people are embracing the full spectrum of 0-50 ABV content available to them, adapting their choices to suit specific drinking occasions," ​says Bacardi in its 2021 cocktail trends report.​ 

This flexible approach has led to low-ABV cocktails, which provide an alternative daytime drink for those who are keen to reduce their alcohol consumption, and is a logical progression from the rise of spritz culture with low-proof, leisurely drinking.

“What really stands out in our insights is how huge mindful drinking has become in Western Europe this year – it is the NoLo capital of the world.

“As lockdown impacted our lives and routines, not only did people begin to seek out lower-ABV cocktails; they also enjoyed cocktails a little earlier than usual and started experimenting with longer drinks and alcohol-free options. That meant mindful drinking really took off and is here to stay.”

And these trends are set to spill over into the on-trade, says Bacardi.

Low-ABV are globally the most engaging cocktails to influential bartenders. ​Globally, 0% ABV spirits have received more interest than any other spirits category – for the second year running.

"And despite headlines surrounding increased alcohol consumption last year, the Bacardi Global Brand Ambassador Survey reveals bartenders feel that the pandemic has accelerated the 0% trend, with consumers more open to trying 0% options as their usual routines are upended, more experimental ways of living emerge and new goals are set.  This market is now in exponential growth.

“Bars are starting to take note of this huge shift, with many bars beginning to adopt hybrid menus that offer all drinks in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions.”

  • Bacardi predicts the no and low spirits category will grow from $100m to $500m in Western Europe by 2024.
  • Globally, 22% of consumers are drinking less alcohol, according to Bacardi’s Global Brand Ambassador Survey 2020.
  • In 2020, 63% of US consumers planned to drink or offer more no and low alcohol options. Around 36% of consumers in the UK, France and Germany said they planned to enjoy more no and low alcohol cocktails in December 2020.
  • In Germany, 24% of consumers were planning to take part in Dry January – and yet only 6.8% said they had ever done so before, representing a clear increase in interest.
  • In Eastern Europe, 83% of Bacardi’s brand ambassadors said that bars are offering low-ABV cocktails, compared to 37% globally.

Beyond quarantinis: Functional elixirs

Also heralded as a trend to watch​by Pernod Ricard, Bacardi eyes up the potential of functional elixirs on the low to no scene.

“The pandemic has ushered in a new focus on mindfulness and wellbeing. Jin Jin cordial​ offers to bring the benefits of cultured enzymes to drinks. The cordial uses a traditional fermentation technique from Japan and combines more than 35 fruits, vegetables and mushrooms as well as lactobacillus – a ‘super probiotic’ that defends the body from unwanted bacteria; aids digestion; and bolsters nutrient absorption. Molson Coors’ recent probiotic and non-alcoholic seltzer​ launch is an important milestone in this movement going mainstream.

“Immune system boosting ingredients have come to the fore, providing a way for consumers to feel reassured they are doing their best to maintain their health.”

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