Low Alc, Low Cal & Sophisticated Softies, Where Have All The Drinkers Gone?

You might have noticed a phenomenon amongst the people you know. Many of them are cutting down on their alcohol consumption, opting for no alcohol on some nights out, or have stopped drinking all together!

Dry January is a huge event as is Stoptober to make us think about how and why we consume alcohol. It’s a trend that’s been bubbling away for a little while now and is backed up by some interesting statistics.

The soft drinks industry saw the 4th highest growth in on trade consumption figures last year and the retail behemoth that is Tesco’s has just announced a business focus on the no alcohol and low alcohol wine segment due to growth.  Eisberg, which has a 52% share of the non alcoholic wine market saw sales up 40% in the 52 weeks to September according to Nielsen data.

What’s happening in the off trade is always a good indicator of what’s happening in pubs.

So what are the reasons for the rise in popularity of soft drinks?


  • Clientele

The customers within your premises will obviously have a huge impact on what is selling.

The decline of 16 to 24 year olds in pubs has been realised as this age group occupy a digital connected world, much more so than their predecessors, are not as interested in doing what their parents did, consume less alcohol and have less disposable income due to a more unstable economic situation.

The most growth has been of the over 55’s sector and also 10 to 14 year old’s, who are heavy consumers of premium soft drinks, accompanied by their parent’s.


  • Health

Calorie counts are high on the agenda with a recent report by the EU commission that invites its members to present a self-regulatory proposal within a year to provide calorie and nutrition labelling on alcoholic beverages, which will avoid the need to enforcement mandatory labelling.

What is actually in your drink is a huge consideration for health conscious consumers.

Sugar is a demonised factor across the press and with the sugar tax looming, we want better alternatives!

Lower calorie, purer ingredients and super food style ingredients all make for a far more appealing soft drink.

Lower calorie Wine and Prosecco are increasing in popularity too with consumers starting to accept the higher price tag that goes with these healthier choices.



  • Cocktails

Premium quality soft drinks are fantastic ingredients in the best cocktails, and who doesn’t love a special drink?

As previously mentioned consumers are willing to pay more for a better taste. Think about Tonic water as one such example. Rewind 10 years and there was pretty much only one brand for sale (yes we all know it!) in pubs, look at how things have changed!

28% of all licensed premises now offer Cocktails on their menu’s and the perfect mix needs all the right elements to deliver an optimum drink.



  • Social Media

Dodgy dancing and drinking a little too much were forgotten from one weekend to the next 15 to 20 years ago but with the rise of social media your every misdemeanour can be snapchatted or instagrammed in seconds. Definitely not cool for the majority of young people and attributed to one of the reasons less alcohol is consumed in those age ranges.

That and a negative media stream of drunken antics and tv programmes have apparently turned many young people off excessive consumption of alcohol and on to a more mindful approach.


  • Historical cycle

According to recent ONS figures the young adults of today are more likely to be putting their parents in a taxi then the other way round!

We are never too keen to repeat the things our parents did before us, and higher costs of living, and lack of job stability are all proven to have an effect on pub spending.

A report recently in Metro stated between 2005 & 2013 the number of under 25’s deciding to go Teetotal jumped by a whopping 40% and in 2004 anyone over the age of 15 drank 11.6 litres on average, this had dropped to 9.4 in 2013.


What should you be offering?


Consumers want premium quality.  41% of consumers want soft drink’s with unusual flavours according to Global brands.

Healthy options are a massive trend as consumers seek out a lower sugar alternative. Recent figures from the US show that for the 11th consecutive year soft drink sales have declined and 68% of consumers would pay more for a lower sugar drink with fewer ingredients, linking the number of ingredients on the label to health.

The Top 100 drinks brands include Belvoir Elderflower Presse, Red Bull, J20 orange & passion fruit ( which pulled in a mega £216m revenue last year in on trade) and Fever Tree tonic water.

Unsurprisingly Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Diet Coke  and Coke all made the list.

Packaging that is smart in design and looks like alcohol is very popular.

Uniqueness and a strong brand story are all elements which the savvy consumer identifies with and want’s to drink.


Quite simply you need to really think about your soft, low and no alcohol beverage offering in great detail.

Ice and a slice in a glass of pop just isn’t going to cut it anymore!