Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Restaurants Wonder What to Do with the ‘Sober Curious Mindful-Drinking’ Customers


Have you noticed that younger generations are practicing “mindful drinking,” a philosophy that promotes meditation and awareness of the impact that alcohol has on overall mental health. If not you’re, not the only one Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® had not either.  However, after reading new research; he suggested we share a article by Lauren White Director of Client Partnerships-Beverage Alcohol and CBD,  So here we go:

“A noticeable shift has emerged among Millennials and Gen Z, with a growing interest in low-alcohol or nonalcoholic (NA) alternatives to traditional alcoholic beverages. This “sober curious” movement is driven by social media, heightened awareness of the impacts of excessive drinking, an increased focus on health, and the growth of other options (like cannabis) for socializing.

The rise of online communities like Sober Grid, which supports the sober curious movement, and participation in Dry January prove the growing interest in this lifestyle. Alcohol purveyors and brands that want to stay relevant must find a way to genuinely resonate with these consumers and align their offerings with evolving preferences. Not every brand is fit to jump on this bandwagon, but for those that are, it’s important that any NA or low-alcohol product offerings authentically fit with the brand’s image.

Why the Shift?

Embracing the sober curious movement is more than just a fad – it’s a reflection of the evolving values and priorities of the younger generations. Health consciousness, wider availability of options when socializing and the desire for higher-quality products have reshaped the alcoholic beverage industry. In fact, in 2022 alcohol consumption within the United States decreased slightly year over year, driven by economic conditions, personal health decisions, and the recent surge of nonalcoholic beer, wine and spirits.

Younger generations are also practicing “mindful drinking,” a philosophy that promotes meditation and awareness of the impact that alcohol has on overall mental health. A recent Harrogate Spring Water study found that 57% of consumers are trying mindful drinking and of those consumers, Gen Zers lead the way, with 69% choosing to alternate alcoholic drinks with NA or low-alcohol alternatives during social gatherings.

With so many pivoting to this new lifestyle, how can alcohol and beverage retailers and brands bring awareness and educate consumers about their offerings?

Listening and Adapting to the Sober Curious

Sober curious consumers and mindful drinkers are increasingly favoring quality over quantity.

With this shift in preference, a trend in premiumization has arisen, where brands are offering higher-quality, more expensive drinks for consumers who want to enjoy a great cocktail but desire to consume less. This also extends into the NA beverage market, with many companies offering sophisticated nonalcoholic beer, wine and spirit options. Companies like Heineken have championed this movement with Heineken 0.0, its alcohol-free beer that promises the same full-bodied taste as the original. High-quality alternatives have become a core part of many brands’ portfolios. 

According to a recent DISQO study, 32% of respondents said that they were curious about trying alternative beverages and 24% said that they’re supporters of such a lifestyle shift. Keep in mind that it’s important to know your consumer. If your target customer would be averse to a nonalcoholic beer, start with a small strategic launch, gauge the market reaction and scale from there.

Help Build Authentic Customer Connections

Targeted connected TV (CTV) and digital advertising are crucial for retailers and alcohol brands to efficiently reach the right consumers, build awareness and stay authentic. CTV in particular presents a unique opportunity: 62% of daily CTV audiences fall between 18 and 34 years old, making it an ideal channel for reaching the generations driving the sober curious movement.

For alcohol brands, CTV helps maintain responsible advertising through more granular audience data than traditional linear buys. Precise targeting on CTV allows marketers to serve all promotions, even NA promotions, to consumers of legal drinking age. CTV also enables advertisers to target specific audiences based on demographics, interests and viewing behavior. For example, the target NA audience may include health-conscious individuals, occasional drinkers or those sober curious consumers. Lastly, CTV can deliver personalized, relevant ads to the right audiences while they’re at home, relaxed and receptive.

Interactive digital video advertising complements CTV by offering a lean-in experience for mobile and desktop users. For example, educational content like product galleries, hotspots, recipe galleries and customer reviews can be included on interactive tabs within the video unit to invite audiences to engage and learn more about your NA or low-alcohol offerings on their own terms.

Retailers can tailor promotions to consumer preferences, optimizing product displays and offering personalized discounts. Store locator maps can even be integrated into the video ad to help users discover their nearest retailer offering NA or low-alcohol products, thus shortening the path to purchase and increasing in-store foot traffic. This level of personalization enables brands to provide customers with a more engaging and authentic experience.

The sober curious movement isn’t a passing fad, but a profound transformation in consumer behavior. Retailers and alcohol brands must adapt to these changing preferences authentically to remain relevant in market. By embracing this movement and engaging with consumers genuinely, retailers and brands can establish themselves as leaders in the evolving landscape of the alcoholic beverage industry.

Lauren White Bio: As director of client partnerships at Emeryville, Calif.-based, Lauren White has played a pivotal role in driving the success of high-profile premium CPG brands, specializing in the beverage alcohol and CBD categories. White is a founding member of Tech Up for Women and plays an active role in the Alliance for Women in Beer. She can be reached at”

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