Why Non-Alcoholic Beverages Are Actually a Trend in 2021
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Why Non-Alcoholic Beverages Are Actually a Trend in 2021

The beverage industry has leaned heavily on alcoholic drinks for centuries, with billions of dollars in revenue and a strong presence in cultures around the world.

Why Non-Alcoholic Beverages Are Actually a Trend in 2021

The beverage industry has leaned heavily on alcoholic drinks for centuries, with billions of dollars in revenue and a strong presence in cultures around the world.

Beer, wine, liquor, and everything in between – it's all still on the table in 2021, but a new trend is making its way to the party: non-alcoholic drinks for adults.

New ingredients, distinctive flavors, and unique experiences await those seeking a different type of buzz. Here's why non-alcoholic beverages are a legitimate industry force in 2021, and what leaders in the field say about the trend moving forward.

Post-Pandemic Lifestyle Shifts

Perhaps it took a global pandemic for people to start taking health more seriously, but it's better late than never! While many indulged during lockdowns, many consumers are looking for ways to shed pounds and clean up habits.

"The silver lining of this public health fiasco is that people are reconsidering basic principles about health and what they put into their bodies," said Seb Evans, Co-Founder of Banquist. "We see folks enjoying drinks that align with healthier lifestyles and promote goals like weight loss and fitness."

These lifestyle changes may start with diet and exercise, but start branching out into other areas of health like mental well-being, relationship building, and drink choices.

"We associate eating and drinking with socialization and making connections, and people are realizing that this can be done in a much healthier way," says Hector Gutierrez, CEO of JOI. "Rather than binging on burgers and beers, friends and family are getting together over real, quality food and beverages that don't leave them feeling sick or guilty."

It goes beyond simple calorie counting, of course. Non-alcoholic drinks often contain other healthy ingredients that add to the value and enjoyment of every sip.

Don't be mistaken – genuine alcoholic drinks aren't going anywhere. However, leaders in the industry have noticed a distinct shift towards healthy living, and adjusting accordingly.

"COVID-19 turned all of our attention towards living a healthier overall lifestyle, when realistically the next generation is growing into the next phase of life," said Lance Herrington, Founder, CEO, and Head of Design at UNICO NUTRITION. "As millennials (like me) continue to take on those 'grown-up' responsibilities like mortgages and kids, wasting a day hungover isn't possible. Add on top of that the rise of non-alcoholic spirits, a growing emphasis on 'mocktails' at restaurants, and impressive developments in the CBD (and even cannabis space) beverage space, consumers are seeing very enticing options when it comes to social drinking beyond traditional spirits."

Evolution of the Drinking Experience

With big changes to markets and shopping styles, the time is perfect for non-alcoholic drinks to plant a flag in a competitive market, with all the right factors coming together at once.

"The shift towards conscious consumption and the increased awareness of local economies are key lessons from the past year or so, and that's why drinkers are making adjustments to how they shop," said Justin Chan, Growth Manager at JuneShine. "Instead of just buying the same old low-quality drinks, they're looking at the big picture and being more thoughtful about the whole experience."

Bars and clubs may be back in action, but many social occasions are happening in private, whether it's parties at home or exclusive events. This also impacts how people drink and what choices they make when imbibing.

"Customers became extremely comfortable with home delivery and other types of services that departed from the typical order-a-drink format at a venue," says Jason Sherman, Founder of TapRm. "They realized that there is far more variety than they knew in the drink market and tried different things. This helped spark an interest in non-alcoholic drinks and a change to the culture in general."

Beyond the nightlife, many drinkers are now experiencing different types of social gatherings, whether related to health and fitness events where alcohol may not be the best fit.

"If you just finish a 5K fundraiser event or a group workout at your crossfit gym, it doesn't really make sense to start cracking beers and popping wine bottles," said Anish Patel, Founder of Tinto Amorio. "We're seeing social interaction evolve beyond the bar scene and that means a new type of drinking to accompany that change. It's a positive trend for everyone and it opens up a whole new dimension of community and fun."

What Non-Alcoholic Beverages are Trending?

Non-alcoholic drinks are often deemed boring, but that's far from the case in the current landscape. This is especially true for cannabis beverages that pack a punch and plenty of flavor.

"Cannabis beverages are now in their execution and improvement phase," says Carlton Fowler, Co-Founder of Goat Rodeo Capital. "Nobody has to argue anymore whether consumers like the form factor [i.e. the beverage format], or that the category is growing. Now, to enter the next phase, cannabis beverages must grow their ecosystem. They need better distro, better co-packing. These are easy right now for leaf, but not for beverage."

For customers that don't want any buzz whatsoever, there are numerous options on the table in 2021, including many old-school favorites seeing a revitalization.

"I see many social drinkers starting to reconsider the appeal of alcohol, looking for other ways to enjoy time with friends while avoiding empty calories and hangovers," said Guna Kakulapati, Co-Founder and CEO of Cure Hydration. "Beverages like teas, kombucha, sparkling water, and electrolyte-loaded drinks are increasingly popular for obvious reasons. They're delicious and they make people feel great without the downsides."

As many industry leaders point out, more time is being spent reading nutrition labels, making ingredient selection more important than in markets past.

"It's not that we're seeing miraculous new inventions in the beverage space, but rather a rebirth of different drinks with cleaner, more natural ingredients that people want," said Rym Selmi, Founder of MiiRO. "Just look at the commercial interest in plant-based products of all kinds. This is a great indicator of trends to come in the beverage world and beyond."

New Customer Connections

Further fueling the momentum of non-alcoholic drinks is a stronger connection with customers that brands cultivate via social media and direct communications.

"The consumer is really the star of the show in the modern business world, as showcased on platforms like Instagram where influencers are so powerful," says Sarah Pirrie, Brand Director of Healist Naturals. "If people see that being healthy is cool and desirable, that's naturally going to manifest in every market, including drinks."

Companies can hear exactly what customers want and respond with new products in quick time frames. More than ever, this back-and-forth dynamic is leading to exciting innovation and opportunities for small businesses to thrive.

"At the end of the day, it's about control over the customer relationship," says Josh Jacobs, Co-Founder and CEO of Speakeasy Co. "Those relationships are priceless because they generate direct feedback on products and services from users, shortening the innovation cycle. And the data and analytics collected through ecommerce show who is buying what, allowing for better-targeted marketing and communications."

This unpredictable economy has shown us that anything is possible, even something counterintuitive like non-alcoholic beverages for adults.

This is one niche industry worth watching as it continues to develop and take interesting new twists and turns.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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