Bottoms up! Boozeless beverages on the rise

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It is undeniable that we are becoming a more health conscious nation, with millions of us hitting the gym, watching what we eat and cutting down on the booze. A study by Nielsen showed that over 25% of people want to decrease their alcohol intake for health reasons.

Traditionally seen as big drinkers, 3.1 million in the UK took part in “Dry January” this year and many are taking on the Government’s advice of having a few alcohol-free days a week. Even the younger generations, normally synonymous with binge drinking and vodka-fuelled parties, can see the benefits of sobriety. In 2015, research showed almost a third of 16 to 24-year-olds didn’t drink, compared to around one in five 10 years before. Binge drinking rates also decreased – from 27% in 2005 to 18% in 2015, according to the Health Survey for England.

But what are people drinking instead? Much of British culture is built around heading to the pub, and an estimated 14% of Brits already drink alcohol free beer, wine or cider. As a result, this market has seen significant growth over the course of the past year, with spending on low- or no-alcohol beer, for example, increasing by 28% to £43million. But what if you don’t want to go to the pub, or simply don’t fancy the other unhealthy ingredients in the low or no alcohol options? Many fizzy drinks, juices and even flavoured waters are filled with sugar – what’s the point in exercising or saying no to seconds if your drink is going to reverse the effects?

Thankfully this year we have finally started seeing the launch of more non-alcoholic, healthy drinks with reduced or no-added sugars, perhaps partially in reaction to the introduction of the government’s sugar tax. However, there is a huge opportunity for growth in this sector, as this trend is likely to continue next year because people will still be concerned with their health and weight. We took a look at a few health drinks to see how people are reacting to them.

healthy drinks

Charcoal Shot

The distinctively-black vegan health shot is made of activated charcoal, coconut water, lemon and apple. It has a tart-sweet and sour flavour that has divided the internet since it’s launch in February. Activated charcoal, according to health experts, absorbs toxins, whitens teeth and reduces bloating. But what do consumers think? 37% of online sentiment towards the product was positive, while 50% was neutral and only 13% was negative. Posters describe it as “delicious”, “refreshing” and a “healthier alternative” – which sound like all the goals of a health drink. Unsurprisingly, it has inspired a range of other “healthy shots” now available.

Flavoured water

It didn’t take long for consumers to realise their “healthy” flavoured water contained almost as much sugar as the bad guys in the shelf. In response to that, in the past years we’ve seen the market flooded with new and more natural products to please those really concerned about health and calories, such as no & more and V Water. At the same time, a range of “super waters” has also emerged, with products that promise to go an extra mile. Skinny Water, that claims to curb cravings and burn calories, and Neo Super Water, that promises many benefits through its high alkaline pH and electrolytes, are just two examples. What else can we make water do for us?

Milk alternatives

As well as criticism of alcohol, many are now choosing to move towards a vegan diet, for both health and ethical reasons. This means that animal milk cannot be drunk. This is where plant-based milk alternatives come in, like Alpro, who have been seeing about 10-15% growth year on year since 2013.

Aloe Vera juice

Aloe Vera is known for its medicinal properties in the form of creams, but these advantages can also be found when its drunk. While it may have high sugar content like many other juices, aloe vera juice can help everything from liver function to dermatology issues. Plus, consumers find it super tasty, with only 8% of online sentiment towards it in 2018 being negative.

Consumer trends towards a healthier lifestyle are set to continue in the next years, and there still is a huge opportunity for growth in the non-alcoholic beverages segment. The casual dining sector, for example, is already answering to demand for vegan dishes and organic ingredients, and now might be a good time to update the drinks menu with healthier alternatives too. On another note, the mixers/cocktails sector is struggling to find low-sugar options with the same quality – creativity and innovation are much needed.

The wide range of new options and the big window of opportunity in the non-alcoholic, healthy drink sector demonstrates the increasing level of demand for such products – and highlights that this area should be one that investors keep their eyes on. A market analysis can help identify which sub-segments are more favourable and which risks companies should prepare for. With new products and brands popping up constantly, it is also important to conduct digital due diligence on any interesting prospect to ensure it is one with potential.

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