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Did dry January really lift the spirits of non-alcoholic beverage makers?

January 28, 2021 9 min read

Dry January is almost done, but returns for the non-alcoholic beverage industry have been anything but sobering. In recent years, a bumper crop from beer makers, non-alcoholic distilleries, and boutique seltzer brands – among other similar upstarts – has reaped the rewards of people who generally seek to dehydrate or increase their consumption. And the deeper we dive into this pandemic, the more there is demand for cleaner alternatives that still approximate the feeling of an intoxicating beer or sniff.

The entrepreneur spoke to representatives from four companies that in 2021 had a vested interest in targeting both passively sober and determinedly reformed consumers about dry January marketing with a view to long-term customer loyalty. The final result? Your glasses are definitely more than half full.

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Photo credit: Courtesy of Athletic Brewing Co.

The soft drink brand: Athletic Brewing Co. (Stratford, CT)

The alcohol-free offer: A range of practically 0% ABV craft cans ranging from the seasonal all-out stout to the year-round Upside Dawn Golden Ale. And yes, they do seltzer too.

His approach to dry January: hitting head-on. Athletic unveiled the Dry January Survival Packs in the weeks leading up to 2021, as well as a corresponding media campaign and a clear focus on their website’s homepage. As co-founder Bill Shufelt says of Dry January, “There’s no urgency, but it’s really nice to have such a receptive audience where we work hard for the rest of the year to proactively find people.”

The Results: Shufelt is pleased to report that Athletic “didn’t even make it to January” before inventory of 10,000 survival packs sold out. “Only anecdotally, it seems that we have been significantly more involved on all of our social media channels,” Shufelt continues. “And our website traffic has increased 90% in the first five days of the month since the start of the year.” Even so, the pandemic has ramifications: while some might assume that closing bars would be a boon for Athletic, Shufelt makes it clear that “our beers in bars and restaurants are great when they’re on the menu and among the top beers can belong. ” Selling Beer “so that both sales and word of mouth were lost.

His approach for February and beyond: Perhaps, paradoxically, not being pigeonholed as a beer maker for people who don’t drink beer they get drunk. “We’re all inclusive,” says Shufelt. “Words like sober or vegan are pretty out of date these days. People can be sober for a day, a month, an hour. I would say that the majority of our customers drink alcohol from time to time. Try beer and relax at other times as well. “

Image Credit: Courtesy of Seedlip

The non-alcoholic beverage brand: Seedlip (UK)

The Alcohol-Free Offer: In 2015, branding guru Ben Branson paid tribute to his family’s centuries-old farming tradition by launching this line of distilled non-alcoholic spirits infused with plant extracts and varieties such as citrus and spices. When poured over soda and ice, they evoke light aperitifs – just without the intoxicating punch – or make for sophisticated, virgin cocktail mixers. They also come in very nice bottles that could top your top notch gin.

His approach to dry January: “January is a great time for us to educate both consumers and retailers, especially the why and how,” says Branson. “Whether people are trying to cut alcohol or cut it for the month of January, we always see a lot of traffic on our website, Instagram and Facebook from existing and new customers; people looking for inspiration and delicious recipes Beverages. ”Seedlip also launched a new initiative this year called“ We Are Nature ”. In Branson’s words, it expresses the company’s “commitment to celebrating and protecting the natural world, making sure we do our part, and better serve what makes our brand a reality: nature.” Naturally.

The Findings: Reflecting the growing popularity of the market, Branson says, “Over time, the interest and search for soft drinks and mocktails has steadily increased. It was a more gradual and sustained increase, although we are of course seeing an increase in January. ” . However, Branson also acknowledges how the ongoing pandemic has adjusted people to how to treat their minds and bodies once that has subsided. “Over the past few years [increased interest in the New Year has] The result was that consumers were simply looking for a dry January alternative, “he explains.” But now I feel that the majority of people are simply looking for a better choice based on quality, taste and an overall more moderate and healthier situation. conscious lifestyle. “

Her approach for February and beyond: “It’s all about taste,” summarizes Branson. “Occasions like dry January or sober October are great goals for products like ours, but I really believe you get it once you’ve tried Seedlip. We can all relate to it: want or need or try, none Having alcohol for as long as we want, but still wanting a seat at the table. A tasty, sophisticated drink that takes just as much time and attention to make as high-proof cocktails. That is good hospitality. “

Image Credit: Courtesy of MAD TASTY

The soft drinks brand: Mad Tasty (Newport Beach, CA)

The non-alcoholic offer: Mad Tasty, which was created in 2018 by Ryan Tedder of the multi-platinum band OneRepublic, combines a few trendy insanities and offers hemp-enriched sparkling water in flavors such as the self-explanatory watermelon kiwi and more bizarre unicorn tears (not too confused with Polar’s unicorn kisses).

The approach to Dry January: “Our main goal was to engage in a trend talk like moderation and talk about the importance of Mad Tasty,” said Leila Khoury, Marketing Director of Mad Tasty. “In this case, our focus is on educating consumers about hemp and the benefits of the plant, as well as the refreshing and fun experience of the drink.”

The result: Khoury admits that Mad Tasty only launched products in 2019 and that there isn’t much year-on-year data. She also explains, “In a traditional beverage cycle, cold drink sales tend to decline in the colder months, including January.” Despite that trend line, Mad Tasty plans to “bring in more new consumers this month than we saw in any month in the last year.”

The approach for February and beyond: Kristen Bareuther, General Manager at First Bev Ventures, one of Mad Tasty’s investors, is realistic. “From a non-alcoholic standpoint, dry January may not be a long-lasting boom.” Still, it is a unique time of deliberate product discovery by consumers “and as a result of the pandemic by consumers.” Consumption was shifted home locally, and although consumers felt they were drinking more, the data suggests that consumers drank somewhat similar amounts of alcohol. Non-alcoholic alternatives that are pleasing for you and the palate and the rapidly growing consumption of food directly to consumers and e-commerce, there is a great chance for a new market entrant to win in the long term if he can translate this. Discovery of the interaction with a consumer’s sustained moderate drinking style. “

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Image Credit: Courtesy of BrewDog

The non-alcoholic beverage brand: BrewDog (UK)

The Alcohol-Free Offerings: Unlike Athletic, BrewDog also deals with alcoholic products, but their investment in the alcohol-free space is no joke. Nearly 0% preparations include the real espresso (which may be due to 39 mg of actual caffeine), Wake Up Call Stout, and Ghost Walker IPA, a collaboration with Virginia heavy metal lights Lamb of God.

Its approach to dry January: As a pioneer in the field of artisanal brewing in the non-Alocholian arena, BrewDog has not focused disproportionately on the hustle and bustle of dry January. Jason Block, CEO of BrewDog USA, said, “BrewDog launched the industry’s first non-alcoholic mix pack, making it easier for drinkers to find the non-alcoholic option that best suits their preferences.” The hope of Block and BrewDog is The fact that they gain a foothold on the market and in the product range early on relieves the competition for the season’s increase in interest.

The Results: Block enthusiastically reports that alcohol-free sales in 2020 were up 425% year over year and that “alcohol-free sales were up more than 100% compared to 2019”. “A good sign for the momentum in 2021.” Three of our top 10 best-selling brands are NA beers, “he confirms. According to Block, this means” there is no end in sight to this category “.

His approach for February and beyond: “Making waves in a new category within the craft brewing space is not an easy task,” confirms Block. “If you set off a pandemic, you have a perfect storm. However, we’ve found that consumers are using their time at home to try new things, especially beer. That’s one reason they walk in the door. Another driver is general Lifestyles are changing and people are aware of what they are consuming. When consumers try a non-alcoholic beer that tastes as good as a real beer and aligns with their personal goals, they come back year-round. “

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