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The Sober Curious Generation

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We’re all aware that the number of customers opting for Low & No Alcohol options is on the rise, with many citing physical health, mental health, and weight loss as key drivers in this choice.

Cutting out the booze for a cause, such as Sober October or Dry January, also play a role in people opting to forgo their hangovers, even if only temporarily.  

However, some might find it surprising that it is the younger generations of Millennials and Gen-Z who are choosing to explore sobriety and are drinking less than their parents did at their age. In early 2021, a study by the Portman Group found that 24% of British drinkers are keen to cut back on booze, rising to 31% for those in the 18-24 age bracket. 

Driven by this 'Sober Curious’ generation, the ISWR predicts that consumption of LONO products will grow 31% by 2024. So why are Millennials and Gen-Zer's leading the march for Low & No Alcohol, and what does this mean for venues?  

A more conscious way of drinking 

Beyond the well-discussed benefits of quitting alcohol, such as more energy and better sleep, many  of those driving the growth in the LONO category are looking to for more balance rather than total abstinence. 63% of adults interviewed said they were actively trying to lead a healthier life.

LONO brands such as Wild Life are perfect for reaching these groups of health-minded individuals. Aside from containing 0% alcohol, one glass of Wild Life Botanicals delivers a minimum of 15% of your daily recommended intake of blended vitamins and minerals, is powered by plants, and is less than 35 calories per glass! 

Other than the obvious health benefits of cutting back on alcohol, Millennials and Gen-Zs looking to moderate their alcohol consumption said they want to be more present on occasions with family and friends. The rise in moderation was accelerated by Covid-19, with overall alcohol volume consumption expected to have declined by 10% in 2020, according to the ISWR. 

The millennial generation are known for questioning what the generations before them did, and are not afraid to break the mould, so a move to more mindful and conscious drinking is not surprising. 56% of millennials consider themselves to be mindful drinkers compared to 37% of baby boomers. (1) 

What does it mean to be ‘Sober Curious’? 

According to Very Well Mind, Sober Curiosity “tends to mean something different to every sober curious individual, making it an inclusive cultural movement.” (2) 

But broadly it refers to the fact that those who are exploring sobriety, or a decrease in alcohol consumption, are not necessarily cutting out the booze entirely. More than half (58%) of global no/low consumers reporting that they choose to switch between no/low and full-strength alcohol products on the same occasion. (3) ‘Moderation’ is the key word here – young people are looking to limit their alcohol intake without cutting it out entirely.  

This feeds into the popular channels of communication, with social media discussion around alcohol-free drinks up significantly year-on-year, research from PROOF Insight has shown. Mentions for non-alcoholic drinks are up 12% with beer and mocktails being the most discussed, followed by wine, gin & tonic, and cider. Social media is a key catalyst in driving the discussion around sober curiosity, such as Instagram account ‘Sober Girls Society’ and hashtags such as #SoberCurious, #SoberLife, #SoberSaturday. 

A must-list for Dry January and beyond  

The range of Low & No Alcohol products on offer these days is ever-growing. With mindful drinking in vogue, global alcohol brands are exploring alternatives (such as Gordon’s Alcohol-Free or Magners 0.0%), with several others started with a mission to create alcohol-free products that customers can enjoy on any occasion (such as Caleno or Lucky Saint). 

With more key target audiences exploring a more sober night out, including Low & No Alcohol options on lists is increasingly a must-have for venues looking to maximise sales in Dry January and beyond.  

 References:

  1. Sober Curiosity - why millennials are drinking less alcohol (insider.com)   
  2. What Does It Mean to Be Sober Curious? (verywellmind.com) 
  3. Low and no alcohol: 4 top trends to stock | Food & Drink | Speciality Food Magazine 

About the author

Mary McCarron

Mary works in digital marketing for Matthew Clark. After a couple of years working in tech, she found her way back to the hospitality industry and can now be found talking all things cocktails, spirits, beer, softs and more across our website and social media.

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