Alcohol-free drinking occasions are on the rise

In celebration of the launch of our low and no research report, we’ve spoken to a number of industry experts to gain different perspectives into the low and no opportunity. Here we get the perspective of the bar operator.

All Bar One have led the way in satisfying the growing number of alcohol-free drinking occasions. With 1-in-4 pub/bar visits now alcohol-free, Laura Clarke, Senior Marketing Manager at All Bar One, explains how they are grasping the opportunity to better satisfy the needs of the low and no customer.

What do you think is driving the growth in alcohol-free drinking occasions?

I think a shift in lifestyle choices, primarily focused on wellness, is driving the alcohol-free drinking occasions. This is particularly important for Generation Z and Millennials, who have grown up with lots of information about wellbeing. They want more low and no alcohol options that deliver against this when they are out socialising. This is coupled with some great product innovation developed over the past two years.

There are so many more alcohol-free choices now. People don’t have to default to a lime & soda anymore if they choose not to drink or want to reduce their alcohol consumption.

Tell us a bit about All Bar One’s low and no journey?

Low and no is part of our strategy to offer balanced choices, which includes physical and emotional wellbeing – including both moderation and indulgence. We started with a fairly basic low and no offer in 2017. We have since expanded our range by +66%. We’ve given more visibility to the category in our digital & in-bar comms.  Focus within our Head Bartender training has also increased, to enhance knowledge within our teams.

We have now got a range we’re really proud of, including alcohol-free drinks alongside mindful cocktails, lower ABV wines and Kombucha. 

All Bar One now offers 20 different low and no choices on their menu

What are the key things you’ve learnt along the way?

All Bar One have implemented a ‘test & learn’ approach (some ideas have worked, some haven’t!) Our key learnings are:

  • That every drink category should feature low and alcohol-free options, from cocktails to beer.
  • We should market low and no through dedicated drinks menu space, digital content and influencer engagement.
  • We need to continually improve the terminology we use – no ‘soft tails’!
  • We’re continuously educating our teams about this category to ensure every guest receives the best experience when they visit All Bar One. Even if they’re on an alcohol-free drinking occasion.

Has your focus on low and no attracted new customers? Or better satisfied existing customers?

It’s a mixture of both. Our guests visit us for many occasions, sometimes they may be having drinks or brunch on a weekend, other times they may be working from one of our bars & grabbing a bite to eat. Each occasion can prompt a very different bar order by the same guest.

In a similar way to how we’ve developed our food offer to include an enhanced range of vegan dishes, we have developed our drinks offer to include improved low and no drinks. All Bar One have gained new guests because we offer a considered choice of quality drinks and food, whether drinking alcohol or on an alcohol-free drinking occasion.

Where do you see the future of the low and no category?

It’s a really exciting time for the low and no category, with year-on-year growth in the market. With drink innovation in the low and no category rapidly expanding, there will be some interesting, insight-led NPD launches where differentiation will be critical.

I’m particularly excited to see how the wine industry will develop further low and no products. I also think we will see low and no being included in experience-led offers such as cocktail masterclasses and brunch.

Any advice for operators on how to grow the category?

I have four top tips…

  1. It’s all about SERVE SERVE SERVE! The garnish & glassware used for a No/Low drink should be just as impressive as its alcohol equivalent, ensuring value for money for guests.
  2. Regularly review the size of your Low/No range across all drink categories (packaged and made-to-order) to ensure you’re offering choice.
  3. Invest in team training to educate about this growing market.
  4. Elevate visibility on and off-line so guests know about your range.

Thank you, Laura. All Bar One are clearly leading the charge when it comes to delivering against their customer’s alcohol-free drinking occasions. Some fantastic insights, and also advice for operators, on how to maximise the low and no category.If you’d like to read about low and no from a non-alcoholic beer brand perspective, a non-alcoholic spirits perspective, a retail perspective or even the customer perspective, please keep checking back for new blogs.

KAM’s research report – Low No: The Customer Perspective – is available now.