More and more Aussies are going alcohol-free and it’s not just for Dry July.
Australian drinking culture is changing as the popularity of non-alcoholic drinks continues to explode.
As Aussies head into Dry July, Endeavor Group Director Buying & Merchandise Tim Carroll said a growing “drink less, better” movement has led to an explosion in demand for alcohol alternatives.
“Customers are increasingly choosing low-intervention and organic wines, sugar-free ready-to-drink alcohols or artisanal craft spirits,” said Mr. Carroll.
But of those categories, Mr. Carroll said, the alcohol-free industry in all of the retailer’s major liquor stores — BWS and Dan Murphy’s — had become their fastest-growing category in the past three years.
According to Endeavour, BWS and Dan Murphy’s, sales of non-alcoholic drinks have increased by more than 150 percent in the past two years and the retailers now offer more than 329 different products.
“Because the quality of the new wave of non-alcoholic drinks is so good, we see that once customers have tried these for whatever reason, they keep coming back – many just love the taste; it’s no longer a compromise to choose an alcohol-free option,” added Mr. Carroll.
Growing demand for a drink with friends, but no hangover, drove Irene Falcone to found sansdrink.com.au – an alcohol-free wine, beer and spirits online superstore in the year 2020.
And for lovers of house parties and footy game nights (or just a quiet night with a glass of red), Irene Falcone’s bottle shop offers up to 400 non-alcoholic drinks, from quality wines to non-alcoholic beers and spirits.
“My company has grown ten times the size since I started two years ago – last year I made $10 million in the last financial years and I’ll probably do 20-30 million in the next – frankly it’s amazing,” she said.
“Last year was my first Dry July and it was huge… I think people are using the month as an excuse to take the plunge and try non-alcoholic drinks and what happened is we finally have good products , so it’s not just grape juice anymore.”
Ms. Falcone says part of the huge success and demand for non-alcoholic drinks is that it doesn’t feel like a cop.
It’s a social shift in Australia’s famous drinking culture, which she says is more about socializing and less about what you actually drink.
“Someone can walk into my shop and see a bottle that says Barossa Valley Shiraz, 2018 and they know we’re talking about a regional wine, we’re talking about a dated wine so it’s aged for a few years and then at the bottom the label is alcohol-free in lowercase,” she added
“We’ve got the men on board with the non-alcoholic beers, so it’s not just a movement for women – it’s about accessibility, it’s normalized and mainstream to drink non-alcoholic drinks.
“I also have such a huge female Muslim customer base…so for them being able to open a bottle with the safety of a halal certification takes those customers’ worries away too.”
And according to Endeavor data, it is young Australians who are more conscious about their health that are driving the zero alcohol trend.
“Australians are drinking less but better across all demographics, but Zoomers and Millennials are definitely driving this trend,” said Mr. Carroll.
“Customers primarily choose alcohol-free products to moderate their consumption or to have options for specific alcohol-free occasions, such as OcSober, Feb Fast or Dry July, drinks during the week or if they are the designated driver.”
Dry July is an annual charity fundraising campaign that challenges Australians to go alcohol-free for a month to raise money for people affected by cancer.
With more alcohol-free campaigns like ‘Hello Sunday Morning’ and ‘Untoxicated’ helping to destigmatize sobriety in Australia, independent non-alcoholic retailers are saying that Australia’s social drinking culture doesn’t have to be bad for your health.
Ms Falcone said it was probably no coincidence that sales of non-alcoholic drinks skyrocketed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I think Covid has really made so many people focus on their health, and stop being distracted by the nine-to-five grind and really start taking care of ourselves,” she said.
“So this movement is really a part of that.”
According to DrinkWise, an independent social change organization, the growth of the alcohol-free movement is a “positive sign”.
“The increasing popularity of non-alcoholic products is a positive sign that Australian consumers are making active decisions to reduce their alcohol consumption,” said Simon Stahan, CEO of DrinkWise.
“It’s also no longer just the choice of designated drivers, with consumers choosing non-alcoholic options to suit a range of lifestyle choices.”