Martin Pasco
Martin Pasco is a Mintel Food & Drink Senior Global Analyst, monitoring and engaging with the latest innovations and market developments in Spirits and Wines, and some food categories.

Non-alcohol spirits were already trending in the UK before the pandemic, but a COVID-19-driven downturn will accelerate the trend for moderating alcohol drinks. How should drinks brands evolve their products to tap into this?  

Be clear about product benefits to justify premium prices

Zero Alcohol By Volume (ABV) spirit brands must make the most of this opportunity. This applies to Western markets where moderating alcohol already has a foothold, as nearly half of UK consumers aged 18-34s, for example, are trying to drink less. Younger Europeans are also seeking a natural route to relaxation, as health and work are prioritised over hangovers in a COVID-19-driven downturn. Currently, the UK is the pioneering market for innovation in 0% ABV spirits.

British drinkers wanting to reduce alcohol will pay a premium price for non-alcoholic spirits that offer clear benefits compared to regular soft drinks. Relaxation is the number one needstate for which drinkers turn to alcohol. However, not all non-alcoholic spirit brands have fully communicated their relaxing properties. Brands must now state their benefits more overtly on their packaging.

Here, we highlight several innovative non-alcoholic/low-alcoholic spirit drinks launched in the UK:

Spiced Citrus (Atopia)

Source: Atopia.co.uk

Atopia Spiced Citrus (0.5% ABV) uses distillation with botanicals to build complexity and sophistication in flavour. It is a new generation of spirits, inspired by the more mindful, lifestyle choices of today’s consumer.

Sea Arch

Source: Wisebartender.co.uk

Sea Arch (0.5% ABV) is “to be enjoyed with a clear head”, and is made with natural seaside botanicals, such as sea kelp, samphire and cardamon. It is described “as uplifting as a walk on the beach” to capture the true spirit of the Devon coast.

Celebrate the benefits of mindful drinking

Health-conscious Gen Zs (born between 1995-2007) have embraced alcohol moderation and appreciate that too much alcohol will impair their mental wellbeing. But other Gen Z drinkers need help to visualise alcohol-free lifestyle benefits. Non-alcoholic spirits should position themselves as a shortcut to good mental health.

 Love (Senser Spirits)

Source: Senserspirits.com

Senser Love (0% ABV) blends 18 plants (including hibiscus, rose, passionflower, orris root, bergamot, geraniol and palmarosa) to “produce a state of relaxed serenity”, taking the edge off, facilitating the transition from work to play.

Nude Wine (Wild Life Botanicals)

Source: Wildlifebotanicals.co.uk

Nude Wine (0.5% ABV) has flavour notes of gooseberry, greengage and young banana. It uses botanicals including lemon balm and damask. One glass delivers 15%-60% of one’s daily vitamins and minerals intake.

Beware the threat of soft drinks with mood benefits

Non-alcoholic spirits have given younger drinkers more options, but are still niche. Crucially, non-alcoholic spirits are priced at parity with full-strength spirits, whilst soft drinks with mood benefits are more affordable. Non-alcoholic drink brands must look out for the threat from affordable lifestyle-enhancing soft drinks. 

Flavoured waters and juices are becoming expert in communicating with needstate benefits rather than showcasing lesser known ingredients. Non-alcoholic spirits brands must, therefore, work hard to offer a rationale to trigger purchase.

Below are some examples of soft drinks that offer mood-boosting benefits:

Tiger Spring Drink (Humble Warrior)

Source: Mintel GNPD

Tiger Spring Drink from the UK is a still juice described as an adaptogenic blend of panax ginseng, turmeric and cinnamon. It is said to draw on “centuries of plant-based wisdom from the East”.

Relax Finely Sparkling Mixed Drink (Habitus)

Source: Mintel GNPD

Relax Finely Sparkling Mixed Drink from France is a blend of five plants, spices, water and bubbles flavoured with cinnamon, cardamom and lemon balm that has a relaxing effect that promotes wellbeing.