The alcohol industry will see a shift towards NoLo options in 2022

Alcohol-free and low alcohol (NoLo) drinks are becoming more and more popular, especially among the young, sober-conscious generations. The pandemic we’ve endured over the last few years has caused us all to pause and reflect, giving us time to think about what is important to us. Consumers now have a growing interest in health and well-being, and this will shape long-term NoLo market movements.

In 2021, NoLo spirit sales soared by 106% at Tesco and 91% at Sainsbury’s (The Guardian) and Borja Salinas, vice president of marketing at Heineken USA, predicts that this NoLo market growth won’t slow down anytime soon. More and more brands in beer, spirit, RTD (ready to drink) and wine categories are jumping on the NoLo wagon. In the past year, category giants have introduced their own NoLo drinks, for example, Corona launched their ‘Sunbrew 0.0% beer’ and Tanqueray have announced an alcohol-free gin.

Consumers will be looking for quality when it comes to NoLo drinks; premiumisation is needed to push the category forward. If it doesn’t get you drunk, then it at least must look and taste amazing, right?!

Having said that, a recent study suggests that maybe you really don’t need to drink to have a good time. Researchers found that the effects we feel from alcohol are only partially explained by the ethanol content and that factors such as our expectations and social settings play a key role in our perceived level of drunkenness. This placebo effect is likely to be a factor in why NoLo drinks are a hit! They taste great, make you feel a little loose, and you wake up with no hangover! It’s the perfect combination for sober-conscious, health and well-being fanatic party goers.

Gen Z drinking NoLo enjoying the party

So, what does this emerging market mean for established brands and newcomers?

The category is changing because the consumer is changing. Therefore, established brands need to relearn the motivation behind their consumer’s behaviours and purchasing decisions and work out what the powerhouse brands excelling in this space are doing to retain their interest.

NoLo brands who are fresh to the market need to understand what their consumers will be looking for. Brands need to know who their customer will be and what drives them to purchase.

How can we help?

At Spark Emotions, we are experts in consumer behaviour. We discover what your customer really wants and looks for both online and in-store through our multiple methodologies that capture real emotions in real time. Read our case study on how we used our bespoke emotional tool to increase customer interaction for a global winery.

As the alcohol market becomes more saturated, so does the competition for shelf space in supermarkets. NoLo spirits will be placed next to alcoholic spirits in-store, so standing out on shelf will be crucial in this overcrowded category – read our blog on stand out on shelf for some of Spark’s tips. Distinctive assets are also vital to being a top-of-mind brand. At Spark, we can measure how your (and your competitors’) distinctive assets are performing, we analyse the data and provide actionable insights to help you drive growth.

Shopper buying chilled wine

Whether you’re a NoLo brand coming to market who need to understand your sober-conscious shoppers or if you’re an established alcohol brand feeling the pressure of this emerging NoLo category, Spark Emotions can help you. Our Brand, Pack and Media expertise helps leverage our clients to the top of categories. Get in touch to find out how we can help you!

Related articles:

If you’re in the alcohol industry or want to keep on top of the latest trends in the category, then read our 2022 alcohol trends blog.

Alcohol Trends 2022

Get in touch to find out how we can help you drive business growth

Related blogs:

If you’re in the alcohol industry or want to keep on top of the latest trends in the category, then read our 2022 alcohol trends blog.


Written by Evie Harris-Jenkins, Research Executive at Spark Emotions.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Evie via email or connect on LinkedIn