Faux booze goes mainstream

Interest in non-alcoholic beer, wine and spirits has been soaring and is expected to far outlast “Dry January,” the month when people typically swear off booze.

Why it matters: Companies big and small are doubling down on the mocktail market, which is being pitched as a healthful alternative for social drinkers who want to take a day off from their nightcap.

Driving the news: Sales of zero-alcohol drink substitutes used to be a blip on the radar screen, but now there are hundreds of brands — and even entire stores selling nothing but booze-free booze.

Katy Perry just came out with a new line of alcohol-free aperitifs called De Soi, telling People magazine, “I’m 37, so I definitely can’t drink like I was in my 20s.”Dry January participation has grown to 19% of adults, driven by millennials, per Morning Consult.Heineken has a pricey sponsorship with Formula 1 to promote Heineken 0.0 — and reinforce the message that you have to be sober if you want to drive.

A startup called Boisson has just opened five stores in upscale New York City neighborhoods that only sell high-end spirits, wines and beers without alcohol. Nick Bodkins, CEO and co-founder, tells Axios that store traffic and e-commerce sales are rising steadily and he’ll expand into other markets this year.

Boisson sells 125 brands, including Thomson & Scott Noughty wines, Seedlip non-alcoholic spirits, Figlia aperitivos and Optimist non-alcoholic distilled spirits.”This market is absolutely exploding,” Bodkins says. “This is essentially a category that did not exist, but will exist going forward.”The pandemic prompted lots of people to examine their drinking habits and cut back, he said.Boisson calls itself a “judgment-free zone.” “Most of our customers are taking a night off or a drink off — they’re not saying ‘I’m never going to drink again,” Bodkins said.

The Boisson store on Lexington Ave. in Manhattan. Photo: Jennifer A. Kingson/Axios.

By the numbers: NielsenIQ reported in October that sales of non-alcoholic beverages had increased 33%, to $331 million, in the last year.

“There are many health and wellness trends … that are causing alcohol consumers to take a second look at their beverages,” said Kim Cox of NielsenIQ .”While non-alcoholic beer has been available to consumers for many years, there are now more no/low alcoholic wines, spirits and beer options available than ever before.”

Back story: Spiros Malandrakis of Euromonitor International, a market research firm, traced the rise of non-alcoholic spirits to 2016, “when the startup Seedlip began positioning alcohol-free adult beverages in a ‘positive light’ and playing up the lack of calories,” Business Insider reported. (Diageo, which owns brands like Guinness, Ketel One and Tanqueray, purchased Seedlip in 2019.)

The “sober curious” movement, which has its roots in a 2018 book by Ruby Warrington, emphasizes that teetotaling can bring about better sleep and greater clarity and focus.

Between the lines: Some products — like Katy Perry’s and the line of booze substitutes from Curious Elixirs — boast that they contain “adaptogens,” which are nontoxic plants said to help the body deal with stress.

What’s next: Expect to see more high-end bars and restaurants — and prominent bartenders like Ivy Mix and Lynnette Marrero — proffering non-alcoholic drinks.

Source: Axios Read More

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