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UK Attitudes towards Low- and Non-alcoholic Drink Market Report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Attitudes towards Low- and Non-alcoholic Drink market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Products covered in this Report

This Report covers consumer usage of and attitudes towards low-/non-alcoholic drinks. In all categories, non-alcoholic drinks refer to those which have an ABV (Alcohol by volume) of 0%, while alcohol-free drinks do contain a very small trace of alcohol (0.05% ABV or less). For this Report, definitions of low alcohol vary by category as follows:

  • Beer and cider – 2.8% ABV and below. This is based on the government’s tax band at this strength, which was introduced in 2011.
  • Wine – 5.5% ABV or below. This has also been derived from government tax and duty breaks for wines which are of this strength or below. Many wine operators have innovated around the 9% ABV mark and classify these as lower alcohol, even campaigning for another tax break for wines around this strength. However, these are treated as standard strength and are not included in this Report unless specified.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Richard Caines, a leading analyst in the Food & Drink sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Consumers have been cutting back on the amount of alcohol they drink for financial and health reasons and this presents a big opportunity for low-alcohol and non-alcoholic/alcohol-free beers, ciders and wines. Negative taste perceptions, low product visibility and limited promotional support are still holding the market back from realising its full potential. Richard Caines
Senior Food & Drink Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • New guidelines and evidence of moderation in drinking
              • Calories in spotlight due to focus on weight management
                • Alcoholic drinks prices expected to rise in 2017
                  • Rate of growth in number of Millennials slowing down
                    • Household budgets to come under pressure in 2017
                      • Companies and brands
                        • Choice of alcohol-free beers expanding
                          • More new low-alcohol variants from wine brands
                            • Eisberg extends alcohol-free range
                              • Belvoir looking to emulate wine
                                • Tesco expanding range of low-/no-alcohol drinks
                                  • The consumer
                                    • Strong evidence of moderation in drinking
                                      • Figure 1: Limiting or reducing the amount of alcohol drunk in the last 12 months, November 2016
                                    • Cutting back to save money, manage weight and improve health
                                      • Figure 2: Reasons for limiting/reducing the amount of alcohol drunk in the last 12 months, November 2016
                                    • Out-of-home occasions most important for low-alcohol drinks
                                      • A quarter of drinkers drink low-alcoholic beer, cider or wine
                                        • Figure 3: Usage of beer, cider and wine in the last 6 months, by standard and lower alcohol content, November 2016
                                      • Taste the biggest barrier to higher take-up
                                        • Figure 4: Factors that would encourage the drinking of low-alcohol or non-alcoholic/alcohol-free drinks, November 2016
                                      • Mixing alcohol and soft drinks a popular way of drinking less
                                        • What we think
                                        • Issues and Insights

                                          • Increasing moderation of alcohol consumption presents opportunities for low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks
                                            • The facts
                                              • The implications
                                                • Demonstrating improvements to taste and widening availability will help overcome the biggest barriers to consumer take-up
                                                  • The facts
                                                    • The implications
                                                      • Highlighting low calorie content compared to standard-strength alcoholic drinks offers scope for increasing sales to over-55s
                                                        • The facts
                                                          • The implications
                                                          • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                                            • New guidelines on alcohol consumption
                                                              • Evidence of moderation in drinking alcohol
                                                                • Calories in drink coming under the spotlight
                                                                  • Alcoholic drinks prices expected to increase in 2017
                                                                    • Rate of growth in number of Millennials slowing down
                                                                      • More over-55s unlikely to benefit low-alcohol and alcohol-free sales
                                                                        • Tightening of household budgets expected
                                                                        • Market Drivers

                                                                          • New alcohol guidelines put focus on limits for low health risks
                                                                            • Strong evidence of increasing moderation in drinking
                                                                              • Weight management puts calories in drinks in the spotlight
                                                                                • Lower-ABV drinks enjoy lower duty
                                                                                  • Figure 5: Duty on beer per litre per, by type and alcohol strength, March 2016
                                                                                  • Figure 6: Duty on cider per litre, by type and alcohol strength, March 2016
                                                                                  • Figure 7: Duty on wine per litre, by type and alcohol strength, March 2016
                                                                                • Beer and wine prices fall in 2015 and 2016
                                                                                  • Figure 8: CPI price indices – all items, beer and wine, 2006-16
                                                                                • More over-55s unlikely to benefit low-alcohol and alcohol-free sales
                                                                                  • Figure 9: Trends in the age structure of the UK population, 2011-21
                                                                                • Spectre of tighter household budgets poses a threat to drinks
                                                                                  • Putting the focus on responsible drinking
                                                                                  • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                                    • More alcohol-free beers from major brands
                                                                                      • Alcohol-free also being seen in craft beers
                                                                                        • More flavoured low-alcohol beers
                                                                                          • New low-alcohol variants from wine brands
                                                                                            • Alcohol-free specialist Eisberg extends range
                                                                                              • Belvoir looking to emulate wine
                                                                                                • Tesco launching largest ever range of low-/no-alcohol drinks
                                                                                                • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                                  • Focus on responsible drinking with alcohol-free lager
                                                                                                    • AB InBev launches Becks Blue Lemon as part of Smart Drinking Goals
                                                                                                      • Carlsberg goes alcohol-free with San Miguel and Carlsberg
                                                                                                        • Alcohol-free also being seen in craft beers
                                                                                                          • Beer with added ingredients for “detoxing”
                                                                                                            • More flavoured low-alcohol beers with fruit flavours
                                                                                                              • Wines focus on flavours and low calories
                                                                                                                • New low-alcohol variants from wine brands
                                                                                                                  • Alcohol-free specialist Eisberg grows its range
                                                                                                                    • Smaller brands enter the fray
                                                                                                                      • Belvoir looks to emulate wine
                                                                                                                        • Tesco to stock more choice of low-/no-alcohol drinks
                                                                                                                          • Magners extends into alcohol-free ciders
                                                                                                                          • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                            • A fifth of people are teetotal
                                                                                                                              • Strong evidence of moderation in drinking
                                                                                                                                • Focus on being healthier also hitting alcohol consumption
                                                                                                                                  • Out-of-home occasions most important for low-alcohol drinks
                                                                                                                                    • Non-alcoholic/alcohol-free versions a less popular alternative
                                                                                                                                      • A quarter of drinkers drink low-alcoholic beer, cider or wine
                                                                                                                                        • Taste still biggest barrier to higher take-up
                                                                                                                                          • Being cheaper or having fewer calories can increase appeal
                                                                                                                                            • Mixing alcohol and soft drinks a popular way of drinking less
                                                                                                                                              • More attention given to ABV than calories
                                                                                                                                              • Limiting or Reducing Drinking Alcohol

                                                                                                                                                • A fifth of people don’t drink alcohol
                                                                                                                                                  • Strong evidence of moderation in alcohol consumption
                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 10: Limiting or reducing the amount of alcohol drunk in the last 12 months, November 2016
                                                                                                                                                  • Saving money a major reason for cutting back on alcohol
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 11: Reasons for limiting/reducing the amount of alcohol drunk in the last 12 months, November 2016
                                                                                                                                                    • Reducing alcohol to manage weight and benefit health
                                                                                                                                                      • Drawing attention to reduced calories, not just alcohol, has scope to chime
                                                                                                                                                        • Health considerations are a key driver for over-55s
                                                                                                                                                          • Linking non-alcoholic drinks to dry campaigns
                                                                                                                                                            • Two thirds have more than one reason for drinking less
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 12: Number of reasons for limiting/reducing the amount of alcohol drunk in the last 12 months, November 2016
                                                                                                                                                          • Choice of Drinks on Different Occasions When Limiting or Reducing Drinking Alcohol

                                                                                                                                                            • Out-of-home occasions more important for low-alcohol drinks
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 13: Drinks people would be most likely to drink on different occasions when limiting alcohol intake, November 2016
                                                                                                                                                            • Smaller numbers opt for non-alcoholic/alcohol-free versions
                                                                                                                                                              • Soft drinks most popular alternative to drinking alcohol
                                                                                                                                                                • Older consumers more likely to opt for hot drinks
                                                                                                                                                                • Knowledge of Guidelines on Alcohol Consumption Limits

                                                                                                                                                                  • Most people don’t know the advice on weekly alcohol limits
                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 14: Units of alcohol per week consumers think NHS/government guidelines recommend as a limit for men and women, November 2016
                                                                                                                                                                • Usage of Different Types of Beer, Cider and Wine

                                                                                                                                                                  • A quarter of drinkers drink lower-alcohol beer, cider or wine…
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 15: Usage of standard, lower-alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks*, November 2016
                                                                                                                                                                    • …but penetration dwarfed by usage of standard-strength products
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 16: Usage of beer, cider and wine in the last 6 months, by standard and lower alcohol content, November 2016
                                                                                                                                                                    • Lower-alcohol wine grows usage
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 17: Usage of lower-alcohol and non-alcoholic/alcohol-free drinks as a proportion of total category users, November 2016
                                                                                                                                                                    • Little change in usage of lower-alcohol and alcohol-free beers
                                                                                                                                                                    • Factors That Would Encourage Drinking of Low-Alcohol or Non-Alcoholic/Alcohol-free Drinks

                                                                                                                                                                      • 45% of people could be swayed to low-/non-alcoholic drinks
                                                                                                                                                                        • Taste is biggest barrier to higher take-up
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 18: Factors that would encourage the drinking of low-alcohol or non-alcoholic/alcohol-free drinks, November 2016
                                                                                                                                                                        • Emphasising being cheaper would encourage a fifth to drink
                                                                                                                                                                          • Fewer calories another attribute that can be promoted
                                                                                                                                                                            • Increased availability and visibility could also help sales
                                                                                                                                                                            • Behaviour and Preferences in Relation to Drinking Alcohol

                                                                                                                                                                              • Targeting those who prefer the taste of alcoholic drinks
                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 19: Behaviour and preferences related to drinking alcohol, November 2016
                                                                                                                                                                              • Strong signs of people moderating their drinking
                                                                                                                                                                                • Mixing alcohol with soft drinks popular
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Need for ABV to be prominent on packaging and bars
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Calorie content less of a consideration than ABV
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Consumer research methodology