Booze | August 25, 2023 1:06 pm

Adults Moderating Their Drinking Are Not Turning to No/Low Alcohol Options

The no- and low-booze market faces some growing pains

A selection of a non alcolic spirits, seen inside The Virgin Mary bar, the first alcohol-free bar to open in Dublin, that will provide with a selection of different cocktails, wines, beers and spirits, all with zero alcohol content.
While no- and low-alcohol brands proliferate, some drinkers are moderating in different ways
Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Younger adults are drinking less, or even not at all, as recent reports suggest. But another new study showcases a surprising trend: people who want to moderate their drinking aren’t really looking to low- or no-alcohol alternatives. Per drinks market analysts IWSR, 37% of legal drinking-age adults in the United States say they have not consumed alcohol in the past six months. Among consumers who do drink, more than 50% say they are moderating their alcohol consumption, but only 26% say they are drinking no-alcohol alternatives to their favorite full-strength drinks — unchanged from the figure recorded in September 2022.

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“Moderation strategies remain the same, with over half of people in the U.S. cutting down on their alcohol consumption,” says Susie Goldspink, head of no- and low-alcohol insights, IWSR. “But, as was the case last year, this is not directly translating into purchases of no- and low-alcohol drinks.” The main reasons cited for this include not liking the taste of the alternative products, plus the lack of availability and the cost (n/a drinks can be costly, and sometimes with good reason).

Still, the same analysts forecast that even with a predicted decline in the total U.S. beverage alcohol market at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of -1.5% between 2022 and 2027, no-alcohol volumes are expected to grow at a CAGR of more than +15% over the same time frame.

As for what drinkers are switching to, 35% of no/low consumers say they choose to moderate by not drinking on certain occasions, with 26% switching to lower-ABV options and 20% switching to non-alcoholic drinks when surveyed in Q3 2022. “Water is the most popular choice to reduce alcohol intake, with 60% of Gen Z consumers selecting this option,” Goldspink says. “Boomers are more likely to choose coffee, tea or another hot drink, while Millennials are more likely to combine full-strength wine or beer with a soft drink on the same occasion.”

If people are moderating their booze intake, we do have some non-alc options that are quite tasty.