On February 11, 2020 we attended a no / low alcohol conference at the Vinexpo show in Paris, here is our feedback:
No / low alcohol, a new trend? First, what is it? A no / low alcohol is true to its name: a non or very little alcoholic drink / cocktail. Then, it is not yet a trend but it is developing. In today's society we generally consume less alcohol so offering a product able of combining taste elegance and alcohol-free could be an interesting novelty.
Millennials could be a good target to exploit since they are actors of their consumption and easily exposed to the product placement in social networks and will also be able to talk about it on the web, which will make the no/low alcohol movement bigger.
Where does this trend come from? It started and has been developed in London. Today it is the Americans who are the biggest consumers of no / low spirits. But it’s going to spread soon, non-alcoholic beer is starting to be recognized and various non-alcoholic drinks are already on the bar / restaurant menu.
What brakes could there be? One of the concerns in France, for example, is if we want to drink a cocktail, we are going to drink it in a bar for the experience of the place and the know-how of the Bartender, and not at home. We do not make cocktails for pleasure at home, or it is anecdotal: no / low alcohol is not ready for mass distribution.
What about the market right now? The tonics market would be on the rise: 1.5 billion dollars in 2017 and the estimated figures in 2025 would be + 7.1%, would it be time to invest?
Why could no / low alcohols stand out? The manufacturing process is complex, indeed the issues are different but as technical as those of spirits: choice of supplies, manufacturing, conservation, handling ... what changes here is the quest for new tastes and the extensive research to find a good quality for the materials. They will bring taste and flavor to the benefit of alcohol. These choices will necessarily play on the final price although above all, it is a taste experience that remains to be discovered! To be noted also that it is the distributors who find this expensive, not the consumers. There are years of work behind certain products and the quality is there.
Consumers are looking for quality and transparency, which is a plus for brands because they do real communication work on ingredients, know-how and product values.
The positive point with no alcohols: it's more innovative! Indeed there are many more possible combinations and this opens up a great diversity. Also, if you are on a business meeting or have a day break, you can do it in a trendy cocktail bar thanks to their no alcohol menu. This offer may be the solution to adopt because you will have all the experience of the cocktail in situ, but without the alcohol so this does not hinder the rest of your planning.
Where are we in communication? What brands to follow? There is Fever tree which is leader, Schweppes, Coca Cola signature, and some others which will soon emerge such as Artonic, an organic range of tonic. It will take time before it is accepted and understood by all: we will have to go through the "why", "how", "what is it"? The information will be decisive. Ricard intends to launch a product which is not yet named, they will seek to give the sensation of alcohol but without a feeling of sugar. To be continued.
Why did no / low alcohol have a meteoric streak? There are few consumers who want to embark on new experiences. In addition, distributors sell what sells; they don't take a lot of risk. It is then up to the creators to turn to the bartenders who can test and promote the product. But it will not be enough, partners will be necessary for a dazzling launch! We should also create a community with social networks to reach a lot of people and give the product credibility.
Finally, the reflection to have for no / low alcohol will be: where will they position themselves in the trade? As spirits because they have an identical creation process or as an alcohol-free aperitif / premix? Even if the future is optimistic for this movement, some questions still remain ...