1-in-4 pub visits are non-alcoholic, according to new customer research

According to our brand new low and no customer research, 25% of pubs visits now don’t include alcohol. With the predicted increase in non-alcoholic visits, 2-in-3 licensees are asking for support to help them maximise the growing opportunity.

Our research is based on feedback from 1,000 UK adults and 170 licensees. It has identified key opportunities to improve both the range of low and no drinks and also to better communicate the range available.

Opportunity 1 – improve visibility of low and no range

More than 1-in-2 consumers said they find it difficult to see which cans and bottles are low and no-alcohol. Improving the visibility and communication of the low and no range available is key, especially with so many new brands entering the market.

Laura Clark, from All Bar One, presented at our low and no launch event. She shared All Bar One’s journey from 8 low and no SKUs in 2017, to 20 SKUs in 2019. She highlighted the need for training for bartenders, to ensure they can confidently advise customers on the relatively unknown low and no options.

Opportunity 2 – support publicans with low and no advice

Many publicans want further advice on how to better display and communicate their low and no range. In fact, with more than 2-in-3 licensees wanting extra support with how to better satisfy these customers, it’s a great opportunity for collaborative growth.

Opportunity 3 – low and no range improvements needed

The low and no customer research, carried out last month, aimed to find out the customer perspective on the low and no drinking occasion. It found that 45% of consumers are currently satisfied with the low and no range available in pubs, and 47% are happy with the choice in restaurants.

Opportunity 4 – be aware of negative price perception

63% of customers said they expected low and no alcohol variants to be cheaper than alcoholic equivalents. 13% say the price actively puts them off purchasing.

Some customers believe that the low and no variants are not that much cheaper than the alcoholic versions, so feel they’re getting a worse deal. Pricing needs to be carefully considered, especially if it puts customers off trialling the products in the first place.

Interestingly, Generation Z and Millennials are much more accepting on price. The research found that 36% are happy to pay more for a good quality, low or no alcohol variant. Only 19% of Generation X (over 35 years old) agree.

Opportunity 5 – don’t forget the ‘at home’ low and no occasion 

The low and no customer research also highlights a huge opportunity for the off-trade. More than a third of UK adults have consumed a low or no alcoholic drink at home. This nearly doubles when looking at Generation Z and Millennials specifically.

Many consumers, particularly Generation Z and Millennials, are choosing low or no alcohol variants for either a ‘quiet night in watching TV’ or to ‘drink them with their evening meal’ at home. With 1-in-10 UK adults saying they have consumed a low and no variant with their lunch at home, and nearly 1-in-5 with their evening meal, it can’t be long before they appear as part of a meal deal.

Consumers can be less intimidated choosing a low or no variant drink in a supermarket or convenience store, compared with a pub or restaurant. They can read and compare labels. The price points are also lower for trialling new products and brands. It’s a safe way for consumers to take their first step into the category while they familiarise themselves with the different brands.

At the launch event last week, Jonathan Rons shared insights from The Retail Data Partnership. Unit sales of non-alcoholic beer in UK convenience stores had doubled in the last 6 months, and distribution had trebled, albeit from a very low base. However, the top 5 SKUs accounted for more than 80% of non-alcoholic beer sales.

He also highlighted the huge opportunity to improve display and visibility in store, to further grow the category. KAM research supports this – only 1-in-5 shoppers had ever noticed low and no alcohol variants in a convenience store.

Opportunity 6 – demand is high, lead the way!

Our research identified that many licensees are excited about the low and no opportunity. Two thirds increased their range in 2019.  Many (72%) see the growth of the low and non-alcoholic drinks category as an opportunity to upsell customers into more premium soft drinks.

Brewdog, are definitely one of the thought leading brands in this category. The story of the birth of their first non-alcoholic beer, Nanny State, is a fascinating one. This month they opened the world’s first non-alcoholic beer bar, Brew Dog AF, in London – which has had an impressive first month. Take a look at our Vlog filmed there last week.

The low and no drinking occasion isn’t going away

More than 1-in-3 adults intend to cut down their alcohol consumption in 2020. 36% intend to consume more ‘low and no’ alcohol variants. This figure rises to more than 1-in-2 for Generation Z and Millennials. KAM’s research shows that the ‘low and no’ drinking occasion is set to grow.

The research report – Low+No: the customer perspective – is available now – find out more, or register your interest here.