Insights & Trends
What's attracting consumers to low and non-alcoholic drinks [Non-Alc statistics]
Global data and insights on the reasons why consumers are increasingly attracted to no and low drinks.
In 2021, the low and no-alcohol drinks market grew by 6.1% across 10 countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Spain, the UK, and the US, based on IWSR’s 2022 Global study in this industry. During the same period, the alcoholic drinks market grew by just 2.2%.
The same study also suggests that global no/low alcohol sales rose to $9.9 billion in 2021. And a study conducted by KAM Media suggests 55% of people intend to reduce their alcohol consumption over the next 12 months, offering a vast new market for low/no drinks brands to tap into.
But what’s fuelling the rapid growth of the low/no alcoholic drinks market?
- In the UK, over half (53%) of adults who bought low and non-alcoholic drinks say that taste is the most important factor of their purchase.
- And 85% of low/no alcohol beer drinkers in the UK perceive low/no alcohol beer to taste the same or better than alcoholic beer (82% for wine and 80% for spirits, respectively).
- In the US, NielsenIQ research suggests the main reason (41% of respondents) that drinkers are choosing no or low-alcohol drink options is centered on health and wellness.
Our own research shows that the impact of lockdown - causing millions of households to spend more time at home - played a significant part in raising people’s interest in no alcohol cocktails and spirits.
Many say responsible consumption is a key reason to switch
The Covid pandemic forced millions of people around the world to slow down and re-evaluate their lifestyles, away from the social pressures of public life. Many people were home-bound, with plenty of time to enjoy their freedom away from societal norms and pressures that would influence their decision-making. Some started to shop for non-alcoholic drinks to make at home.
Many people adopted new behaviours and habits around drinking. They began to prioritise taste over effect.
Consumers are open to new experiences
People are increasingly seeking out more options and choices when it comes to socialising and consuming drinks. While alcohol has been a staple in many cultures for centuries, people are now exploring new flavours and experiences beyond traditional alcoholic beverages. This is evidenced by the rise of the craft beer market and the growing interest in low/no alcoholic options.
The Covid pandemic also accelerated this trend, as people spent more time indoors and sought out new hobbies and interests. The desire for novelty and exploration seems to have played a role in the increasing interest in low/no alcohol consumption, with IWSR research showing that a quarter of people attributed their change in drinking habits to pandemic-induced lifestyle changes.
People are seeking out a wider range of options when it comes to socialising and drinking, beyond just traditional alcoholic beverages.
Interest in health and wellness is growing
With a third (32%) of respondents to IWSR’s research saying they switched to low and non-alcoholic drinks to improve their health and wellness, this category of drinker is one not to be ignored.
- According to KAM Media, 46% of people choosing low or non-alcoholic drinks to order at a bar, pub or restaurant do so instead of ordering an alcoholic drink.
- But just 27% chose it instead of having a traditional soft drink, suggesting that many people move from alcohol to low/no alcohol drinks for more than the taste and are having both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks in the same occasion.
It’s important to note that most drinkers aren’t completely replacing alcoholic drinks with low or no-alcohol drinks. Instead, many are incorporating low/no alcohol drinks into their lifestyle, much like those who are cutting down on meat and choosing a few vegetarian meals throughout the week.
In the US, 82% of non-alcohol drinks buyers also buy alcohol-containing beer, wine or spirits, according to NielsenIQ research.
Globally, only 17% of drinkers claim to abstain from drinking alcohol entirely. This compares to 43% who typically drink no or low-alcohol content drinks on certain occasions and full-strength alcoholic beverages on others.
There’s more choice of drinks with low alcohol content and no alcohol content
A key barrier for the low/no alcoholic drinks market remains the difficulty in discovery. In the UK, just 35% of low/no alcohol drinkers say restaurants offer a good range to choose from. But 58% say supermarkets have a good range, showing a disparity between locations.
But with more low/no alcohol drinks becoming available, more drinkers are becoming aware of the growing choices available. KAM Media research suggests:
- 95% of people were aware of alcohol-free options in 2022, compared to 88% in 2021 and 86% in 2020.
- That said, while 79% of people in the UK are aware of low/no alcohol beer, just 42% have tried it according to KAM Media’s research.
Staying with the UK, 25% of drinkers there say that more availability led them to increase their low/no alcohol consumption. But even so, 17% of drinkers say there’s not enough choice of no or low-alcohol drinks. So the no/low alcohol market has plenty of room to grow.
Consumers are attracted to low and non-alcoholic drinks for a wide range of reasons
As we’ve seen, there are lots of reasons why consumers are increasingly attracted to low and non-alcoholic drinks. From healthy lifestyle choices to preferring the taste, to drinking responsibly at home, there’s no one clear reason fuelling the switch from alcoholic drinks.
It’s important to note that these trends vary by demographic. There’s even variation within countries (people in coastal US states are more likely to drink non-alcoholic beer, wine and spirits and spirits than those further inland, according to NielsenIQ).
But the overall trend is clear: the growth of low and non-alcoholic drinks continues to be strong in every sector, from beers to spirits and cocktails. And more consumers are showing interest in this exciting market every year.