What's driving the move away from alcohol? | Source: NORT

The Rise of the ‘Sober Curious’ and the Ever-Expanding Non-Alcoholic Drinks Market

Before the rapid expansion of the non-alcoholic drinks sector, booze-free drink options started and ended at a sugar-loaded mocktail. Today, the no- or low-alcohol market has rapidly grown to encapsulate a number of flavourful non-alcoholic beers, booze-free wines and even spirits like gin. And the list of low- and no-alcohol options will only continue to expand. According to a study from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, the multi-million dollar no/low category is forecast to grow by 31 per cent by 2024.

NORT is just one of the growing number of brands quenching Australians’ thirst for booze-free beverages. Amongst the exponential growth in the category, Australian-owned and brewed NORT has seen sales grow by some 1,100 per cent in the last year alone.

And it’s little surprise as to why. Between 2016 and 2019, some 400,000 Australians chose to completely give up the drink, according to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) survey. What’s more is that an increasing number of Australians are opting to reduce their alcohol consumption, taking a more mindful approach to drinking, a concept that has been labelled as the rise of the ‘sober curious’.

The rise of the sober curious

This Dry July, there have never been so many alcohol-free beverage options. And that’s largely due to society’s increasing preoccupation with health and wellness, a trend that is significantly being shaped by the younger generations.

“One of the biggest drivers is young adults,” founder of NORT, Jaz Wearin explained.

In fact, young adults choosing not to drink has doubled in the last 20 years. But there are many other drivers which is why non-alcoholic beverages are one of the fastest growing segments in the beverage category at the moment.

Jaz Wearin, the founder of NORT
Jaz Wearin, the founder of NORT | Source: NORT

According to Jaz, these other drivers include an growing interest in wellbeing and fitness as well as a greater focus on the importance of mental health, all things that came under the magnifying glass during the height of the pandemic.

“During lockdown, people enjoyed more exercise, time with their families and less hangovers due to less social occasions. People were also engaging more on social and media platforms and there were an increasing number of influencers and prominent people in our society that were sharing their journeys around reducing or abstaining from alcohol,” Jaz said.

The result was a willingness to give moderation or sobriety a go, giving rise to what many are calling a ‘sober curious movement’.

It’s a lifestyle choice

Capital Brewing Co. is another beer brand that’s jumped on the non-alcoholic bandwagon, recently releasing its very first non-alcoholic pint, ALC-LESS.

Co-founder, Tom Hertel said after the pandemic, a shift in values saw more and more people alter their lifestyles to improve their health and wellbeing.

“…Our customers can’t afford to be hungover but they still want to kick back at the end of the day with a good-tasting brew,” Tom explained.

“We don’t want to be forfeiting our days wasted being hungover when we could get the best of both worlds,” he said.

Capital Brewing Co.'s first non-alcoholic beer, ALC-LESS
Capital Brewing Co.’s first non-alcoholic beer, ALC-LESS | Source: Capital Brewing Co.

In pursuit of a healthier, hangover-free lifestyle, the ‘sober curious’ continue to prop up demand for alcohol-free options, not just throughout the duration of Dry July or Sober October, but year-round. So, while alcohol consumption amongst older Australians has remained consistent or increased over the past 20 years, a growing number of young people are moving in the opposite direction, dismantling the idea that you need to drink to have a good time.

With plenty of winemakers, breweries and distilleries concocting their own non-alcoholic tipples, the drinks options for the sober curious are only set to expand.

Considering a non-alcoholic lifestyle? Read up on Mindful Drinking: 5 Reasons to Take a Break.

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