By: Varris Holmes, Marketing Manager
Just like a coin, the COVID-19 pandemic came with two sides. On one side, we saw a great rise in alcohol consumption as the world was compelled to quarantine. Many were forced into isolation and close-knit pods, creating a natural environment for increased imbibing. But as society slowly opens up (and closes down and opens up again), many are sobering up from their pandemic drinking habits. Yet, on the other side of the coin, we at Leahy-IFP have also been following the rise in consumer purchasing of NOLO, Zero Proof and Mocktail beverages. Whether spurred on by the desire to curb their excessive drinking habits, focus on better living and improved health, add variety to their routine or a combination of all of the above, this trend is refueling America.
In this article, you will find:
The Fuel Behind the Trend
Faced with a challenging and uncertain future, many of us began “self-medicating” during the pandemic. And now, as we finally emerge from our COVID-19 bubbles, many are returning to the world more aware of our own health — with a newfound drive to get in better shape and focus more on what we are putting in our bodies. So, as Americans looks to reduce the amount of alcohol and soda they drink, more consumers are now drinking NOLO and Zero-Alcohol products — both at home and when they choose to go out and about.
What is NOLO?
NOLO is an abbreviation for No and Low alcohol beverages. You may be familiar with non-alcoholic beer, but in recent years there has been a surge in reduced or alcohol-free beverages of all types – from wine and whiskey, all the way to complex cocktails (some even generating a “buzz”).* NOLO beverages are healthy and delicious without the same intoxicating effect as their alcoholic counterparts.
* Fona International, 2021.
Imagine – it’s been a long day, and you’re looking for something refreshing to help you wind down and relax. You could easily reach for a cold beer or a glass of your favorite wine, but you remember your responsibilities, like work in the morning, kids and school. You could gamble on a hangover, or alternatively, you could reach for a NOLO beverage and definitely wake up with a clear head. And even if you are only thinking about just one drink, or maybe two, many consumers are now electing to abstain — whether for health reasons or not. Simply put, many more of us are picking a zero-alcohol drink over traditional cocktails this year than in years past.
The Rising Popularity of NOLO
As we all try to get healthier and back in the grove, the popularity of NOLO drinks has increased. According to our research, the pandemic has inspired a wave of consumers who are seeking out functional foods and beverages – a 29% increase! This is where NOLO comes in. NOLO beverages are less costly than their alcoholic counterparts, easy to prep at home, often contain healthy fruits and/or functional components and have little to no alcohol. Though containing little alcohol or none at all, these beverages are just as fun to make and consume as traditional spirits in the eyes of many consumers. To help give context to the terms, ‘Alcohol-free products must be 0.05% ABV or lower, and anything with an ABV of 0.5% should technically be called “de-alcoholized.”
In May, sales of non-alcoholic beer shot up by 44%. This demonstrates the decline of the initial rise in quarantine drinking and suggests that many people are taking steps to lower the amounts of alcohol they consume. Nowadays, there are many substitutes for liquor, including a seemingly infinite number of NOLO beverages. These drinks are on the rise, with 47% of people reported to have purchased a NOLO product in 2020. NOLO beverages are especially popular among Gen Z-ers who are looking for something refreshing for a night in or a tasty and unique way to extend an evening.
In conclusion, we’ve seen a rise in demand for non-alcoholic beverage options and believe NOLO drinks are the answer. In addition to the obvious benefit of reduced or removed alcohol, these beverages are packed with flavor. Additionally, NOLO beverages provide health benefits that traditional spirits, wines and sodas simply do not. As we collectively shake off our post-quarantine hangovers, NOLO beverages will be there to satisfy our cravings for healthier adult refreshment.
So, cheers to NOLO, cheers to moving beyond confinement and getting out to the bar scene again to socialize and drink responsibly.
Try zero alcohol variations of your favorite cocktails for yourself, like our Peach Bellini; or try low alcohol spins on classics like the Bocce Ball – a low alcohol Screw Ball.