As a man who likes beer, but sometimes (very occasionally) doesn’t want the alcohol, my attention was caught by an article about ‘entrepreneurs driving the boom of booze-free drinking’.

Spotting a niche

I haven’t got a sweet tooth and therefore have never been much of a fan of soft or fizzy drinks. But what’s the alternative? Water?! I don’t mind drinking it during the day, but after work? I might as well sit on a spike and eat raw turnips (Blackadder reference for those old enough to remember).

There’s clearly a gap in the market, and others have spotted it too. Whether they’re the designated driver, or just trying to cut down on alcohol for whatever reason, there are people who prefer the taste of beer, wine, or gin, but don’t want the alcohol.

The freedom of the entrepreneur

Why now? There’s obviously the rise of the craft brewery or distillery. There’s also clearly a real social trend (in certain areas) towards adopting healthier lifestyles, eating better, drinking less, exercising more.

Why ‘new starts’ and not the big boys? New companies can be more agile, and they’re often started by enterprising individuals who want something that isn’t currently available. There is also an element of big businesses naturally moving into an inward-looking protection mode rather than an outward-looking innovation mode.

Aligning policy and messaging

Pub/ brewery chains being unwilling to take on these products mainly for financial reasons raised an old bugbear of mine around branding and messaging. We work on brands quite a lot, and we do a lot around customer trust, loyalty, authentic brand experiences and the like. Customers are intelligent enough to read articles such as the one in question, and spot the contradiction when they also see “please drink responsibly” labelling appearing on adverts and packaging. Clearly there’s mixed messages here. I’m not singling out the drinks industry, it happens across many sectors where policy and messaging seem to be misaligned, which can only be a bad thing for the long-term integrity and sustainability of any brand.

– Ian Birkett, Creative Director

The article that sparked this thought process can be found here: https://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2017/sep/06/non-alcoholic-mindful-drinking-seedlip-nirvana-brewery-eisberg