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So who's drinking the dash?

With the undeniable influx of low and no-alcohol beverages, one has to ask - who is the consumer, who is buying it and how are we advertising to them?

All of the leading alcoholic beverage companies have begun flexing their muscle in the non-alcoholic category, with the launch of the likes of Castle Free, Heineken 0.0, and more recently Savanna Non-Alcoholic Lemon. Naturally, with the launches of new products, there has been an incredible increase in the marketing spend behind these ‘zero-rated’ beverages.

"Low alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks have reaffirmed their position as leading trends for the year." - Spiros Malandrakis (Head of Research – Alcoholic Drinks, Euromonitor International).

The noticeable global shift in the drive towards a healthier, more holistic lifestyle has played a significant role in the movement. This balanced approach to living, coupled with the role of Millennials and the newly legal Gen Z-ers has made the previously laughable idea a category of the present.

The response in the South African market has been mixed. Many brands have seen negative backlash on social media with fans questioning the low ABV for the same price, and others simply complaining that the taste is not up to the standard that they know and love. "Tastes like shit" was a commonplace tweet in review of a newly launched alcohol-free beer.

One has to question if South African markets are up for the new approach to drinking, or is it that the zero-rated variants aren’t introducing themselves in the most effective manner?

The seemingly traditional approach taken by most brands is a surprise due to less rigid regulations. Although all non-alcoholic advertising is accompanied with ARA lines due to the link to mother brand, all non-alcoholics can be found in your local grocery shop. In fact, when you can find it on the shelf next to your favourite cool drink, the marketing should be no different.

Non-alcoholic drinks can be brave and bold, and market themselves where their higher ABV contemporaries can't. Brand managers should be thinking like Coca-Cola with the key focus on getting liquid on lips in any environment that the higher ABV's can't – think the beach or the mall, the list is long (and untouched). The key is that the occasion for a non-alcoholic must be solidified before the beverage is rejected in its entirety.

As brands, such as Heineken, try to define the category globally, the South African market for non-alcoholics remains undefined. But, there is a wide-range of health-fanatics, pregnant women, designated drivers, "I've got an early…" to pick from. So before you make them buy your zero-rated, newly launched beverage, just let them taste it first.

About Jess Lennon

Jess Lennon is an Account Director at 34° who likes the taste of non-alcoholic beverages.

34°'s press office

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