No longer confined to just the Festive season, No Alcohol and Low Alcohol Beers have become a more prominent drinking trend in the last year or two. The UK beer writer Pete Brown seems convinced that the alcohol-free beer category will become as attractive to drinkers as regular alcohol is at present, with craft beer producers likely to take a leading role in the affair.
Sales in the UK in the past 12 months are up by 20% in value and 17% in volume across the category.
Changing taste perceptions
With one or two exceptions taste hasn’t exactly been to the fore in the NABLAB market since it first arrived on the scene, but beer companies are likely to take the category a bit more seriously going forward.
In the UK, Heineken has a new Heineken 0.0% alcohol lager available and supported by a £2.5m marketing platform to address the perceived impediments to NABLAB consumption which are reckoned to be taste perception and social stigma.
Evincing the spirit of optimism, Heineken’s Premium Brands Director in the UK David Lette commented recently to PMA, the licensed trade publication there, that, “With a high purchase intent, Heineken 0.0 will not only drive frequency with current beer drinkers, but also bring new drinkers to the category by attracting health-conscious younger consumers who’re drinking less or abstaining altogether, by delivering a great-tasting beer from a brand that they’re proud to be seen with”.
What’s more, Heineken’s research indicates that 50% of UK consumers are actively moderating their alcohol intake today.
And according to Mintel research, one-third of the British public already reduced their alcohol intake through 2016 compared to what they’d normally drink, leading the research company to suggest that about 51% of beer, wine and cider drinkers are now consuming less alcohol than in previous years.
Mintel puts this down to saving money, weight-watching and improving personal health.
This cutback is particularly prominent among Millennials, the 25-34 age group and the 35-44 age group.
Somewhat startlingly, Mintel’s Richard Caines points out that, “Today, lower-alcohol beer, cider or wine is drunk by around one quarter of alcohol drinkers, while overall just 14% of Brits drink non-alcoholic or alcohol-free beer, cider or wine”.
He added that, “Replicating the taste of standard-strength alcoholic drinks and changing perceptions remains a key challenge for low-alcohol and alcohol-free manufacturers”.
Gender & NABLABs
Elsewhere, AB InBev conducted research among 2,000 adults via Optimum a couple of years ago to find that one in 10 women consume alcohol-free beers on a weekly basis.
The 2015 survey found that, specifically among Millennials, over a fifth (21%) of those aged 19 to 34 indicated that they’d choose alcohol-free beer from the beginning of January 2016, an increase of 10% on the 2014 prediction for 2015.
AB InBev believes that the alcohol-free beer category will grow in the coming years as the trend for moderating alcohol consumption takes hold and it suggests that publicans increase their range, ensure that they’ve a selection of NABLAB options visible and that they communicate this selection well to their customers.
The expansion of AB InBev’s NABLAB portfolio is part of its Global Smart Drinking Goals where the brewer has pledged that by 2025 20% of all beer volume it produces globally will be made low in or absent in alcohol.
Ireland’s NABLABs route
Here in Ireland the NABLAB segment, while growing, is so low that any industry figures would need to be viewed with caution.
According to the NABLAB definition (ABV under 2%) the segment currently commands around 17,500 Hectolitres and is growing at just under 5% MAT to October.
The majority of this segment is made up of No Alcohol (0% ABV) product with sales channel equally split between the on-trade and the off-trade (growth at 4.7% is slightly slower in the on-trade).
Just three brands – Erdinger, Becks and Bavaria – make up 84% if this market so there remains room for expansion for the others.
Diageo and Heineken took note of the need for a Low Alcohol alternative to the standard strength beers when they introduced Guinness Mid-Strength and Heineken Light respectively.
The pub with the beer with no alcohol? Watch this space.
Heineken has been making moderation cool through the Heineken brand consistently since 2012. Proof of this commitment is the fact that 10% of media spend on the Heineken brand is spent on responsible drinking in a number of markets including Ireland.
Last year, Heineken took a decision to extend this to all markets – a move which demonstrates a strong commitment to responsibility and moderation. Campaigns such as The Sunrise and Dance More, Drink Slow have been very well-received and have helped to encourage moderation when drinking in a cool and innovative way.
In 2016, Heineken launched the ‘When You Drive, Never Drink’ campaign.
Heineken partnered with F1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart to creatively communicate a powerful don’t drink-and-drive message to a global audience. The campaign, which was also launched in Ireland and continues to run, delivers a compelling don’t drink and drive message, where consumers are left in no doubt – when you drive, you never drink.
Furthermore Heineken Light was introduced to Irish consumers in 2016 and response to date has been very positive. Heineken Light is perfect for occasions when drinkers want to be out with friends and in the moment but opt for a beer with lower calories and slightly lower alcohol content. These occasions include ‘after work’ drinks as well as watching sports during mid-week.
Heineken Light is lower in calories than any other light beer on the market and has an ABV of 3%. Over 70,000 consumers have trialled the product in the on-trade with feedback received being fantastic.
The brand is available on draught and bottle in on-trade outlets nationwide. Heineken Light is supported by TV advertising, Outdoor, Digital, in Bar Activations and Visibility.
Bavaria 0.0% – Leading the way for non-alcoholic beers worldwide
Low and No Alcohol choices have been on the rise in Ireland of late as people continue to move toward a healthier lifestyle. Irish people are taking better care of their health and wellbeing, with a greater focus on healthier eating options and exercise. These new healthier lifestyles have seen a drop in alcohol consumption. As a nation we’re drinking less and thanks to Low and No Alcohol options, we have more choices.
Bavaria 0.0%, true to its name, contains absolutely no alcohol. This separates it from a number of other ‘no alcohol’ beers that actually contain a small percentage of alcohol. Bavaria 0.0% undergoes an exceptional brewing process that ensures no alcohol is created at any point. It was the world’s first alcohol-free beer with 0.0% alcohol in the brewing process and 0.0% alcohol in the bottle. As a result, it retains an unmistakeable beer character as the natural sweetness of the grain beautifully balances the bitter tones of the beer.
Molson Coors is keen to continue innovating in this category. Its team is developing new product offerings as well as new ways to communicate the advantages of No Alcohol Beers to consumers. Molson Coors will continue to bring products to the market in the coming months that are in line with the consumer’s evolving needs and lifestyle choices.
Aroma: Malt and hops
Flavour: Distinct beer flavour, grain, slightly sweet
Colour: Light-coloured EBC: 6-9
Texture: Light and carbonated