It’s that time of year again – New Year’s resolutions have been made and millions of consumers have committed themselves once again to living a healthy lifestyle, whether that means mental health, exercise, healthy diet or a combination of all three. One resolution that’s always found in January is of course abstaining from alcohol for a month – or Dry January – as it’s been called since its start in 2013.
This year, Dry January has seen more popularity than ever, with Gen Z and Millennial consumers driving the urge to ditch the cocktails and pick up some non alcoholic alternatives instead. Last year, Nielsen reported a 33% increase in nonalcoholic beverage sales over the previous year, with nonalcoholic beverage sales totalling $331 million. And last January, a CBC study showed that 35% of adults in the U.S participated in Dry January, up from 21% in 2019.
But now there’s a spin off of Dry January taking place – Damp January. This new trend has gained traction among sober curious consumers – those that wish to drink more mindfully but aren’t yet ready to quit cold turkey. The trend is growing fast, with the hashtag #damplifestyle currently trending on social media. According to Kavita Desai, Pharm. D., a brain health specialist and founder of female-focused health and wellness brand, Revivele, “Going damp can significantly reduce the burden that alcohol puts on our entire body, allowing it to heal and work efficiently, as it should.”
Of course, brands are jumping at the chance to capitalize on the Dry and Damp January movements to reach sober curious consumers. And it’s not just nonalcoholic brands making moves this month, alcohol brands such as Sam Adams and WhistlePig Whiskey are getting in on the marketing fun as well, offering limited edition nonalcoholic beverages for consumers to enjoy.
Sam Adams launched an ad campaign this month around their non alcoholic beer “Just the Haze” – challenging consumers to guess the nonalcoholic beer among a line up of other alcoholic beers (spoiler: they could not find it).
Whistle Pig, meanwhile, teamed up with the Sunkist grower’s cooperative to offer a RTD non alcoholic version of an Old Fashioned cocktail.
Of course, nonalcoholic brands are taking center stage this month, with brands such as Hop WTR, Seedlip, Ritual Zero Proof, Hella Cocktail Co. and Betty Buzz all offering beverage options for the sober curious consumer.
Hop WTR, a booze-free brand that offers consumers beverages an IPA taste without the hangover, launched a fun campaign in December. Leading up to Dry January, they offered people the chance to enter a sweepstakes to win “booze lockers” – a place to lock up alcohol for the month of January, with Hop WTR sending out the code to the lockers on February 1st.
Seedlip, a non-alcoholic spirit brand has caught consumers attention this month by teaming up with celebrity event planner Mindy Weiss, to offer a chance to win $5,000 and a consultation with Mindy to plan a non-alcoholic cocktail party. Seedlip offers several mocktail kits, such as Pineapple Sour, Panoma and Spice Mule.
Ritual Zero Proof is another non-alcoholic brand that strives to capture the taste of your favorite alcohol with none of the booze. Instead of recreating the taste of beer, Ritual Zero Proof acts as a substitute for liquor – and their non alcoholic tequilas, rums, whiskeys and gins can be used in cocktails, just as regular liquor would be.
For those celebrating Damp January and not looking to cut out alcohol completely, there’s plenty of brands out there that offer products consumers can use to build their own cocktail OR mocktail. Take for example Hella Cocktail Co., this brand offers mixers, bitters and sodas that you can enjoy with booze, or without. Their tagline on their website reads “ Hella serves elevated beverage choices where great taste is essential and the buzz is optional.”
Another option of a brand that offers mixers to make either a booze-filled cocktail, or a booze-free mocktail is Betty Buzz, the Blake Lively-founded sparkling mixer brand gives consumers flavor options such as lemon-lime, sparkling grapefruit and ginger beer that can be consumed on their own or mixed with alcohol.
As the sober curious movement continues to grow among Gen Z and millennial consumers, with more young people deciding alcohol isn’t worth the money and the hangovers – the landscape of the beverage market is sure to shift. Alcohol beverage brands will likely look to diversify their beverage profile and offer more nonalcoholic options to keep up with alcohol alternative brands. And the nonalcoholic beverage market will continue to grow in size, with new brands entering the market each year, looking to capitalize on these changing consumer preferences.
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