Low-ABV Beverages Are Having a Moment—Here's What You Need to Know


Non-drinkers, it’s your time to shine. Many brands are launching drinks with low alcohol levels—and it comes as no surprise these health-conscious beverages are having a moment. According to a study by Mintel, consumers continue to show a habitual pattern of lowering alcohol consumption with 21% of drinkers reducing their intake in the past year. In other words, “Dry January” is more than just a moment– it’s becoming a lifestyle for consumers nationwide.

While there is no industry-wide standard of what defines low-ABV, generally any drink that has lower than the typical alcohol range qualifies. Most hard seltzer and kombucha hover between 4 and 6 percent ABV, which is about the same as a light beer. Things are more clear cut with no-ABV, which by definition has 0.0% alcohol content.

The Trends We’re Currently Seeing with Low-ABV Beverages

When it comes to marketing low- and no-ABV beverages, many companies take a health-centric approach. That makes sense because, according to a Yale Source, 9 out of 10 Millennials consider healthy consumption habits a pillar of wellness.

Low calories and carbs are a big reason health-minded consumers typically reach for these drinks. The average calorie count for a hard seltzer is 100, with carbs around 2 grams per serving—about 3x less than a serving of wine. Some low-ABV beers have as little as 21 calories with carbs around 1.2 grams per serving. 

The Heineken 0.0 campaign takes a different approach, encouraging consumers to imbibe at any and all times. Phrases such as, “That moment you couldn’t have a beer? Now you can.” And, “During a meeting? After sport? Before driving? Have a beer. Seriously, now you can.” And we’ll be seeing a lot more of that. Consumers want to know that you understand their lifestyle and that your brand can adapt. 

Tips to Consider When Entering the Low-ABV Space

As an agency of alcohol-loving Millennials, that have also been known to get pretty competitive during a wellness challenge, we were curious about how these drinks stacked up. We tried seven of these low- and no-ABV beverages for ourselves and evaluated their marketing strategies. Here are the four things you need to consider to make your beverage stand out in the digital space:

  1. Focus on the Flavor. While it’s true that Millennial consumers are health-conscious, that’s not all they care about. “It says you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your healthy lifestyle to enjoy great brews, so maybe Olympians or people who are really awesome drink this,” says senior copywriter Jill Duff about Athletic Brewing Co.’s Upside Dawn 0.5% beer. Consider featuring tasting notes and product development process as well. Most consumers will make a decision to buy your product without tasting it first. So, being as descriptive and informative in your marketing as possible is important.

  1. Highlight Health Benefits. Consumers care about what they put in their bodies. “It has some antioxidants… so cool,” says creative director Kirsten Vandenbout of Vizzy Hard Seltzer. “Get healthy while you drink!” Use your social media channels to give them an inside look at the ways your beverages are manufactured, any nutritional benefits, and the ingredients you use. Highlighting benefits your consumers may be attracted to, like plant-based ingredients or low sugar, will allow them to feel even more connected to your brand.
  1. Create Modern, Elevated Visuals. One of our tasters admits the branding made her want to try it. "I saw it in the checkout line and I threw it in my cart last minute because it was cute," says CEO Becca Post about Two Chicks' Canned Margarita. Unexpected product photography or playful promotional videos can have a similar effect on consumers online. In lifestyle content, showcase people in social settings having fun to emphasize that consumers don't need high proof drinks to have a good time. Look at the beverage category as a whole, not just wine or seltzers, to make sure your content stands out.
  1. Create a Proactive Community Management Strategy. No one likes an out-of-touch brand. Social media is where people turn first when they have a question about your product. According to a recent study by Sprout Social, 90% of people surveyed have used social in some way to communicate directly with a brand. If responses go unaddressed for more than 4 hours, most consumers will either check out or switch to a competitor. Build enthusiasm by reposting people enjoying your product and responding to them with engaging messages. 

Effectively communicate all your product's benefit—not just its low alcohol content—to stay relevant with younger consumers as they make healthier choices.

Lastly, if you're looking for a low abv wine cocktail recipe check out our Marketing Wine in the Modern World ebook.

Roemer Harper
Senior Copywriter

Roemer is a copywriter with a passion for social and environmental issues. When she isn’t writing, you can find her watching Bravo TV, reading way too many books (she’s up to 104 this year!), hanging out with her cats, or gently pestering her friends and family about voting.

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