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The Proof Behind Zero Proof

February 2022
  • Gen Z are the most deliberate drinkers, leading health trends like the sober-curious movement
  • Consequently, in the last year, low-alcoholic beverages sales grew 8.1%, while non-alcoholic beverages sales grew a staggering 33.2%
  • The global non-alcoholic beverages market is expected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2028
  • There is also opportunity to capitalize on the sober-curious trend by leveraging the larger footprint that non-alcoholic beverages have to offer



With most of Generation Z coming of age, their drinking habits are quickly shaping the future of the food and beverage industry, even more so than their predecessors, Millennials, whom until now were considered the most conscious drinkers.

Both consumer groups are more deliberate drinkers. However, it’s the distinct difference in how the younger generation perceives and purchases alcoholic beverages that brands should pay close attention to. Concerned about alcohol’s impact on their health, mood, alertness, and image on social media, only 84% of Gen Z shoppers are buying alcohol in comparison to 90% of Millennials.

Over the last year, driven by Gen Z & Millennials, Dry January participation grew from 13% to 19% of adults; and within the 19%, half plan to abstain completely during this month, while the other half plans to scale back their drinking habits. This enthusiasm is not expected to slow down, with 2 months out of the year dedicated to sobriety (Dry January, Sober October); these periods have people reevaluating where alcohol fits into their lives, feeding into the buzz around the sober-curious movement.

This micro-trend is just starting to gain mainstream momentum with new social media accounts like @sobergirlsociety@sobermotivation, and @soberisexy garnering thousands of followers, and significant engagement preaching about the benefits of moderation and sobriety.

As the consumer gravitates towards healthy alternatives to replace beverages loaded with calories and next day regrets, companies need to rethink their products and what it means to be a beverage brand that caters for the growing macro trend of health and wellness, and the maturing sober-curious micro trend.


Enter non-alcoholic beverages.


In the last year, low-alcoholic beverages sales grew 8.1% with $2.77 billion in total sales, while the non-alcoholic beverage sales grew a staggering 33.2% with $331 million in total sales.

Within the non-alcoholic space: beer and cider sales grew by 31.7%, but more notably sales of spirits grew 113.4% during the same period. – NielsenIQ

The global non-alcoholic beverages market is expected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2028. – Fior Markets



What was once a niche category is now beginning to gain traction as a legitimate alternative to alcohol.

As a response to all this craze, alcohol-free bars like Inmoxicated, and alcohol-free beverages stores like Boisson and Spirited Away, are popping up around the country.

It doesn’t stop there; there is also opportunity to capitalize on the sober-curious trend by leveraging the larger footprint that non-alcoholic beverages have to offer; catering for consumers who are likely abstain from the alcoholic versions, these alternatives offer pregnant, driving, dieting, or exercising individuals the opportunity to enjoy themselves without the guilt. In turn giving non-alcoholic beverages the advantage of being present at more occasions and events than their spiked doppelgangers.

With consumers interested in these types of beverages, there is white space in the market to create non-alcoholic versions of their favorite drinks. While the beer category is considered mature in comparison to other products; spirits, cocktails, mixers and even wine still have a long way to go.

These Elixirs of the Sober are proving to be more than just a fad. Consumers are doing their best to live a healthier lifestyle, with many ultimately cutting back on their overall alcohol intake. Alcohol-free alternatives are leading the way with great momentum in new product introductions.

While the market for low/non-alcoholic beverages is still in its infancy, with less than 5% household penetration, it is an interesting area to watch as it now represents $3.1 billion in sales: that’s 3.5% of the total alcohol market share. 

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