Low & No is gaining real momentum in the on-trade. Low and No alcohol beers alone are worth over £45m and are stocked in 60% of UK outlets. Non-alcoholic ‘spirits’ are experiencing strong growth numbers too. However, when we examine Low & No sales volumes, the on-trade still lags well behind the off-trade, where volume has continued to grow during the lockdown periods.
“The volume is definitely in off-trade”, says Ellie Webb, founder of the non-alcoholic spirits company Caleño, “but as more and more mainstream operators expand their offerings in the on-trade, I believe this will start to even out for the category”. With this in mind we asked more of our brand owners to give us their perspective on what the Low & No category brings to the trade, and whether Low & No products are becoming must-haves on the menus.
James Pattison, Marketing Manager at Stryyk
"As moderation and abstinence grows, operators need to adopt sophisticated options. Sugary soft drinks and calorific fruit juices don’t entice non-drinkers into an outlet. However, we feel having an integrated alcoholic and non-alcoholic menu is the future – removing the stigma for non-drinkers with unique looking drinks. Just because they don’t want to drink alcohol it shouldn’t mean they’re consigned to a different drinks list. Conversely, dedicating too much menu space to non-alcoholic options can limit operators. It’s about a third way."
James Grundy, Co-Founder of Small Beer
“There's no denying that consumers are starting to expect there to be a compelling alternative to higher ABV options, for many different reasons. Far from this being a dilemma, the on-trade should see this as a valuable opportunity. Look to drive volume in moments throughout the week and day where sales naturally dip, owing to the evolving behaviour patterns. Consumers love for beer is not decreasing, it is however the consequences that many now look to avoid. With Low & No, a venue is able to offer the very best experience to the customer no matter what brings them through the door and that's something none of us should be apologetic about.”
Nick Worthington, Commercial Director at Big Drop Brewing Co.
“Perhaps another way of looking at it is ‘what trade you might be missing out on by not having Low & No options?’. How many groups of drinkers, with one person abstaining from alcohol, will overlook a venue because they have nothing decent on offer? Nowadays many businesses ban lunchtime drinking. Sectors with a long-standing drinking culture are now taking steps to create a healthier, more inclusive approach to work-related activities. The Law Society, for example, has just released new recommendations for law firms, including ‘working with caterers to offer more interesting alternatives to alcoholic drinks’.”
It can be argued that Low & No drinks are a useful ‘halo’ product to your alcohol drinks range, strengthening your offer and showing your venue as a place open to all. As moderation becomes mainstream, it’s important to remember that alcohol may not always be the main attraction of the trade. Outlets that create a fun, inclusive and experiential social space can and will benefit. Diageo believe that adapting to this shift, away from alcohol as the trade's main attraction, could add £3.5 billion to the industries coffers by 2022.