Is it the future?

Could you forgo alcohol once or twice a week? More importantly, would you want to?

At the start of this year, I joined the 3.1 million Brits attempting to cut out alcohol for one month. I actually lasted until mid-March (I’d more than earned my birthday prosecco at that point) and I must say, I found it relatively easy. And, dare I say it, I actually enjoyed it!

It appears that I am not alone. The other day I stumbled across an article predicting that ‘sober socialising’ (i.e. socialising without drinking) will grow in 2018, particularly among 16-24 year-olds who reportedly drink less than their Millennial counterparts did – with a quarter stating that they do not drink at all (so they say!). In addition, we see a trend for alcohol moderation amongst Millennials – particularly during the week.

No doubt the two generations will have slightly different needs around ‘sober socialising’. For instance, if Gen Z really are drinking less, then their drinking habits, preferences and desires will be less engrained than their Millennial counterparts’. Furthermore, it’s likely that that the social expectation to drink (and the stigma around not drinking) is much greater for Millennials than for Gen Z where the drinking culture is not so heavily established. All of this will have a big impact on where they choose to socialise, when they choose not to drink and what they choose to drink instead.

Clearly, this presents an interesting opportunity for brands to understand emerging needs and to find new and innovative ways to tap into ‘sober socialising’. I’d also argue that the opportunity doesn’t just lie in developing alcohol-free versions of the real McCoy, but expands into the soft drinks category and the entertainment space.

Some brands and businesses have already started to respond to this demand. There’s a small – but growing – alcohol free drinks category (I should know because I’ve tried most of it!). Alcohol-free bars and nightclubs have started to emerge, and I noticed recently (on Instagram) that there’s a large number of wellness festivals gaining in popularity. (Think music festivals without the booze but with lots of spinning classes and cooking demos,)

I’m very interested to see how response to this trend continues to grow. From a selfish point of view I would love to have more variety and better quality options; particularly better tasting alcohol-free variants and more availability in the on-trade to avoid those awkward ‘I’m not drinking tonight’ moments.

Brands…it’s over to you.