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The Boom of Non-Alcoholic — How Bars, Breweries and Retail Businesses Can Capitalize on Growing Demand

Bartender mixing a non-alcoholic cocktail at a bar

At the time of writing this article, we’re at the tail end of Dry January — a month-long sojourn into abstaining from drinking alcohol. Like its sister month, Sober October, Dry January has taken on greater importance in recent years, as more consumers practice it, fueled by the rise in conscious consumption and health and wellness movements. According to a NielsenIQ 2024 trend report, twenty-nine percent of consumers took part in Dry January in 2023 and 44 percent of consumers say they are very likely to take part in it this year.

Dry January’s effect on the industry is complicated. While alcohol brands may see a dip in sales, it’s evened out in another segment of the industry that’s seen heavy investment in recent years. Non-alcoholic (NA) beer, wine and spirits are on the rise, both in the number of offerings in the market, but also in the volume of purchases. According to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, volumes have grown on average 20 percent per year in the U.S. since 2017. 

Driven by heightened consumer demand, it's one of the fastest-growing segments of the beverage alcohol industry. One that has major suppliers jumping on the train to earn a slice of the pie. 

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Non-Alc Doesn’t Just Benefit Suppliers, It Benefits The On- and Off-Premise, Too

For on- and off-premise businesses, there is an opportunity to cash in on this growing segment of the industry. Ninety-four percent of consumers who purchase non-alcoholic products also purchase alcoholic ones. Even further, 1 in 7 (14 percent), have nonalcoholic alternatives (i.e. non-alcoholic beer, spirits or cocktails) when visiting the on-premise. Of that segment, 24 percent range from ages 21 to 34.

From a business perspective, non-alcoholic offerings are no longer seen as taboo. A growing number of bars nationwide have introduced mocktails into their cocktail programs, even making space on their shelves and fridges for zero-proof spirits and non-alcoholic beer and wine. In a quickly shifting landscape, bars can capitalize on the rising demand from their guests by investing in their NA beverage programs, opening new revenue possibilities in the process. 

How Bar and Retail Businesses Can Capitalize on the Rise of Non-Alcoholic Offerings

The increased demand for NA offerings provides new opportunities for bar owners, breweries and retail businesses. But it also opens up a new set of challenges. How do you appeal to those who abstain without alienating those who don’t? What areas can you focus on to provide more NA options to your guests? Here are a few ways to capitalize on the emerging category.

The Opportunities and Challenges for Bar & Restaurant Owners

  • Diversify the drink menu with non-alcoholic offerings. Whether it’s a section dedicated to mocktails or zero-proof spirits, creating real estate on your menu for your NA program is essential to building awareness of your offerings. Download our guide to building a better cocktail menu to learn about tips and strategies for introducing new sections into your menus.
  • Collaborate with local NA beverage producers to offer exclusive and unique options. As more producers enter the NA market, the number of product offerings grows. It’s not just big brands entering the chat. Look at what smaller, local producers have to offer in your area. Are there local breweries making NA options? What about a start-up zero-proof spirit brand? Collaborating with local producers ties your business to the community and shows your dedication to propping each other up.
  • Train bartenders to craft appealing non-alcoholic cocktails and recommend them to guests. Bars should always have options for non-alcoholic drinks. Make sure your bartenders are aware of how to make them and inspire them to treat them with the same creativity and care they would for alcoholic cocktails. If you don’t already have a mocktail program or menu in place, invest in this area of your beverage program to sell more and provide alternatives to those who abstain. 
  • Host tasting events and promotions to introduce customers to non-alcoholic alternatives. Education is key here. Have sales reps hold a seminar for your team so they can learn about the category and product. In turn, they can educate guests. Invite reps or brands to hold a tasting event at your bar to educate customers. Host an NA cocktail competition or new product launch event for local producers to drive further awareness.
  • Consider offering non-alcoholic beverage pairings with your food menu to enhance the dining experience. Why not? Fine dining restaurants around the world have started to offer non-alcoholic pairing options to appeal to a wider range of consumers and diversify their offerings. If some of the world's most celebrated restaurants are doing it, why shouldn't you?

Strategies for Breweries to Capitalize on Non-Alcoholic Trends

  • Develop and market non-alcoholic versions of popular beer styles. Whether it’s a hazy IPA, a classic pilsner-style lager or hop water, look to producing non-alcoholic beers that appeal to all customer tastes to grow and diversify your offerings. 

  • Promote the health benefits and taste of your non-alcoholic offerings throughout your marketing channels. Even if it's just one non-alcoholic option, use your marketing channels to showcase the NA products you offer to promote the quality in flavor and the benefits that come with it. Dry January and Sober October are perfect timeframes to market your product through social media, email, paid advertising and more.

  • Offer non-alcoholic options in your brewery's taproom to attract diverse customer groups. If you sell wholesale to local distributors but don’t sell directly to consumers in your taproom, look to doing so to diversify options for all guest types.

Maximizing Non-Alcoholic Wine and Spirit Sales in Retail Stores:

  • Make room on your shelf for NA wines and spirits. Create an eye-catching display dedicated to non-alcoholic wines and spirits, making them easy for customers to find.

  • Train and educate your staff. Educate staff about the different non-alcoholic wine and spirit options you offer and their unique characteristics so that, in turn, they can educate your customers and provide them with the best options.

  • Diversify your wine and spirit subscription selections. Include non-alcoholic wine and spirits in curated wine packs or subscription services for something new for interested customers.

  • Hold NA wine and spirit tasting events. Invite reps or producers of non-alcoholic wines and spirits to host tasting events and educate consumers about the benefits and quality of their products.

As the industry continues to adapt to this emerging market, both producers and consumers will benefit from the diversification of non-alcoholic offerings. New technologies and production processes will produce higher quality, tastier products. In turn, bars will churn out more creative and innovative NA cocktails and adoption will increase in both the on- and off-premise, opening new revenue streams for businesses. 

Corey Hines

Career bartender turned Content Marketing Manager at Provi, covering all things beer, wine and spirits.


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