“Dry January” is upon us. After the revelry and over consumption of the holidays, many people start the new year refraining from alcohol, trying to exercise and drink more water. In addition to helping consumers kick-start weight loss goals, no alcohol can foster better sleep, decrease hangovers, increase hydration and add a little extra green to the pocketbook. And trends indicate that alcohol abstinence is occurring beyond January.

Alcohol removal is becoming far more mainstream. “The big guns are all invested in the alcohol-free movement,” reports Lu Ann Williams, global insights director at Innova Market Insights, in a Nov. 23, 2021, press release. “Brands such as Guinness 0.0 alcohol free stout and Freixenet 0.0 sparkling rosé wine offer both familiarity and novelty to young, brand-conscious drinkers.”

While alcohol avoidance is becoming the norm for a growing minority of consumers worldwide, Williams noted that Gen Z (consumers aged 18-25) are driving the demand for alcohol reduction with a third of consumers reporting that they never consume alcohol.

Therefore, the no- or low-alcohol free trend — think products of around 4% ABV — are creating an entirely new sub-category within the drinks market, with a plethora of options flooding store shelves. (See our Category Focus article on low/no alcohol in this issue).

Innova Market Insights reports that 4% of all the beers and spirits launched globally in 2021 contained no alcohol at all, rising to 7% among flavored alcoholic beverages (FABs). Launch numbers in each of these areas have grown at compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) of 20-40% over the past five years, it adds.

Cannabis beverages with CBD, THC or a combination also are trending. Infused with nutrients and adaptogens like ashwagandha, ginkgo biloba and rhodiola rosea, UNITY’s beverages aim to be good-tasting while supporting immunity, reducing stress, and improving the long- and short-term cognitive health of each drinker, the company says. Available in six all-natural flavors, including Blueberry Lavender, Strawberry Lemonade and Blackberry Tea, UNITY contains 30 mg of CBD but is alcohol- and THC-free so drinkers will feel relaxed ― not intoxicated, it adds.

Whether it is in alcohol reduction or its complete removal, the beverage industry is recognizing that alcohol-shy consumers, particularly Gen Z, are the target audience of tomorrow. Therefore, adjusting to their needs should be a major focus for new product development.