When thinking of social events, a beer with friends might come to mind; maybe a diner with wine; or - why not - a cocktail party. These are the happy moments in which we - so called - enjoy life. In the next month, this picture is about to change somewhat in Belgium as about 150.000 people are expected to participate in #tourneéminérale, an initiative that challenges people to go without alcohol for one entire month. It is similar to international campaigns such as Sober October or Dry January. They all want to motivate people to think about their alcohol consumption. Because we have to admit: alcohol is deeply rooted in our social lives. Surely, the popular “Drinking Man’s diet” from the 60’s that - I’m not kidding you - convinced people to loose weight by drinking lots of alcohol… Those days may seem long gone, yet some numbers still reveal the sad truth about alcohol consumption. Listen to these: The global alcohol consumption has risen 70% in the past 30 years (Lancet, 2019); Of all the adults in the world, 70% even drinks alcohol at least once a week (Gallup, 2019); and it’s no longer a man’s diet indeed, because both men and women consume as much alcohol today (BMJ, 2016).
Sad it is indeed.
However, not everything is that bad today. And you might have noticed it yourself that things are changing. At least that is if you live in Western Europe. Alcohol consumption here is actually lower today than it was 30 years ago. Sure, we've all come to known that excessive drinking might impact our health and well-being in the long run. That might play a role of course. Addiction is also considered as one of the major drivers for unhappiness, according the World Happiness report. But that is not the main reason why people drink less alcohol. More and more people consciously drink less alcohol these days, just to feel healthier and happier now. In fact, research by ClubSoda, a movement for mindful drinking, has shown that no less than 52% of the population frequently decides to drink less alcohol. Maybe skip that glass of wine in the evening to sleep better? Or why not go for that delicious Mocktail instead of adding liquor to it.
And yes. Look around. It’s all around us. Bars and restaurants nowadays offer a much wider range of non-alcoholic drinks. Many new products have entered the market. From Mocktails, to Kombucha or fruit-flavoured water. But even traditional brands are adapting their product lines. Every beer brand now not only offers a zero-alcohol version. It’s actually their fastest growing product (GlobalData, 2018). Suntory, the company behind Schwepps, launched a product (called: All Free) that looks like water, but tastes like beer. Coca Cola now sells cocktail-inspired drinks (called Bar Nøne) without alcohol. And last year Diageo acquired Seedlip. Yes. that is world’s largest producer of spirits and beers who is buying the first, distilled, non-alcoholic spirit.
I’d like to tell you this: this alcohol-free trend? We are only at the beginning of it. Just look at how it is even spreading out across industries. Swiss supermarket Migros, for example, does not sell any alcohol. At all. Other supermarkets (eg. People’s Supermarket in London) have organised their shelves in such way that alcohol becomes a less obvious choice. Technology company Quit Genius is no longer just focusing on smoking cessation but also on alcohol addiction. Car manufacturers like Volvo and Jaguar, Land Rover are - then again - installing driver-facing cameras and sensors that actually can detect when a driver is intoxicated. In that case, the car will safely pull over. Institutions like Universities are developing alcohol tracking tattoos, alarming bracelets or even synthetic alcohols (Alcarelle). Governments on the other hand are reviewing the legal age for drinking. And some cities even offer a non-drinker’s guide.
Because yes. Just go visit that first pub in London that does not serve any alcohol (Brewdog). At all. Even though it is pouring 15 different craft beers from tap. Sip your smoothie at a trendy wellness hub. Go to sober parties in the most eclectic clubs of a city. Or participate in Day Breaker, an early morning dance event that offers a party experience, minus the alcohol. Social events are indeed changing. And it is not only during the months of Tournée Minéral, Sober October, or Dry January. More than ever, people are conscious about their alcohol consumption. And this time, it is really to enjoy life. In fact, it is to become healthier and happier. So, let’s make your customers healthy & happy.
Christophe Jauquet is a health marketing expert who inspires consumer businesses and healthcare organisations around the world. With his experience at the intersection of healthcare, marketing and technology, he guides companies and brands to remain relevant in the light of this Healthusiasm trend.