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Dry January Lives Up To The Hype As Alcohol Alternatives Thrive

February 24, 2022

Next month, the world will begin its third year of dealing with a global pandemic, and all signs point to an increased focus on healthier lifestyles, which have played an important role in the rise of de-alcoholized drinks. The movement has mostly centered around Dry January but has also been gaining buzz in other parts of the year, such as Sober October. According to CGA Strategy, 2022 saw on-premise participation grow to 35% in the U.S.—a significant increase from 21% of consumers who took part in 2019—and out of those who intended to abstain from alcohol in January, an impressive 74% claim to have succeeded.

According to NielsenIQ’s recent 2022 Consumer Outlook Report, 61% of U.S. consumers claimed that physical wellness will be more important to them over the next 12 months. While alcohol-free beverages’ momentum slowed somewhat in the off-premise this past January because of tough comps against the prior year, total dollars for de-alcoholized drinks are still more than twice what they were three years ago. Conversely, total beverage alcohol dollars—beer, wine, and spirits—fell a combined 6.5% last month versus January of 2021.

Alcohol-free drinks increased by an aggregate of 17.4% in January 2022 in dollar terms, according to combined statistics from IRI and NielsenIQ, much faster than the growth of total traditional beverages (soda, tea, coffee, sports drinks, etc), as customers not only abstain during Dry January, but switch from their favorite alcoholic drinks to non-alcoholic versions. Late last year, actress Blake Lively launched her own non-alcoholic drink line, Betty Buzz—her husband, actor Ryan Reynolds, is the face of Diageo-owned Aviation gin—while supermodel Bella Hadid became a partner in Kin Euphorics, a non-alcoholic beverage that touts its inclusion of natural adaptogens and botanicals.

Only time will tell if Dry January and the larger wellness movement can maintain momentum. But CGA’s consumer research highlights that, of consumers taking part in Dry January, nearly three-quarters said they would continue drinking alcohol-free beer, spirits, and mocktails while 64% planned to drink alcohol-free wine.

This is good news for emerging brands in the non-alcoholic space, especially at premium price points. Among de-alcoholized spirits, Diageo’s Seedlip brand ($32 a 750-ml.) is far and away the largest seller in the U.S. market, according to Impact Databank, while Trinchero’s Fre leads all non-alcoholic wines, after advancing 24% in 2021 to 313,000 9-liter cases. Meanwhile, Heineken 0.0 ($40 a case), the market’s number-one de-alcoholized brew, rose 30% last year to 3.3 million (2.25-gallon) cases.—Juan Banaag

Dry January—Off-Premise Trends by Type
(Millions of dollars)
Month of January Percent Change1
Category/Type 2019 2020 2021 2022 2021-2022
Total Beer2 $2,120.8 $2,217.1 $2,498.9 $2,289.9 -8.4%
Non-Alcoholic Beer $7.49 $11.31 $15.35 $17.61 14.8%
Total Wine3 $1,288.6 $1,356.3 $1,532.2 $1,432.6 -6.5%
Non-Alcoholic Wine $2.78 $3.17 $3.42 $4.25 24.4%
Total Spirits3 $1,083.4 $1,129.4 $1,440.4 $1,392.9 -3.3%
Non-Alcoholic Spirits $0.04 $0.10 $0.33 $0.56 69.2%
1 Based on unrounded data
2 4 weeks ending 1/27/19, 1/26/20, 1/24/21 and 1/23/22 in IRI channels
3 4 weeks ending 2/2/19, 2/1/20, 1/30/21 and 1/29/22 in NielsenIQ channels
Sources: IRI, Nielsen IQ and IMPACT DATABANK © 2022
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