Mastering Non-Alcoholic Beverages: Strategies for Marketing Success


A well-thought-out, non-alcoholic beverage strategy is no longer optional in today's rapidly evolving consumer landscape. It's a strategic necessity for maintaining market leadership and driving sustainable growth. 

By embracing this opportunity proactively, you can future-proof your brands, strengthen consumer loyalty, and cement your company's position as a forward-thinking and socially responsible industry leader.

The world of non-alcoholic beverages is flourishing, and it's no surprise why. According to IWSR, a leading authority on beverage alcohol data, the NA market hit an impressive $13 billion in value back in 2023. What's more, this vibrant industry shows no signs of slowing down. People of all ages embrace these refreshing alternatives, from alcohol-removed wines to flavorful, ready-to-drink bevies, driving steady growth.

The no- and low-alcohol category is poised for even greater heights in the coming years. Reports forecast a 6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2023 and 2027

This new product explosion is fueled by shifting consumer drinking habits, especially among younger generations. Since we wrote about it four years ago, there's been an undeniable trend of reducing alcohol consumption, particularly with millennials and Gen Z audiences. As priorities and lifestyles evolve, many seek alternatives that are enjoyable to sip and align with their wellness goals.

Key Drivers of the No-ABV Beverage Industry

Many see this cultural shift as a result of the sober curious movement, a gentle nudge for folks to dip their toes into a life without alcohol, even if only for a while. It's like a collective exhale after the whirlwind of lockdown overindulgence.

However, many are discovering the benefits of ditching booze, including improved sleep, clearer skin, and fewer headaches—all while still enjoying the social aspects of gathering with friends and family. It's a refreshing perspective that challenges the notion that alcohol is necessary for a good time.

Interestingly, this trend is particularly pronounced among younger generations, who are drinking less alcohol than their predecessors. According to Kantar, Millennials and Gen Z are more mindful of their health and wellness, and they're not afraid to buck societal norms when it comes to their beverage choices. This shift in attitude promises to fuel even more innovation in the non-alcoholic beverage space, ensuring that there's something for everyone, regardless of their reasons for abstaining from alcohol.

Exploring Innovation in Beverage Marketing 

The non-alcoholic beverage space is ripe for innovation as brands explore new formats, ingredients, and positioning strategies to capture the attention of health-conscious and sober-curious consumers. 

Traditionally associated with beer and hard seltzers, canned drinks can leverage the familiarity and portability, making it easier for consumers to integrate NA options into their lifestyles. These beverages can seamlessly fit into social gatherings (think beach hangs, barbecues, tailgating, and picnics) where cans are commonplace in a cooler, creating a natural entry point for exploration and trial. Sparkling formats can also feel familiar (and celebratory) to consumers. 

Category leaders are blurring lines in the industry by positioning their offerings as delicious alternatives to booze. Our favorites reposition traditional drinks, like tepache (a fermented pineapple beverage), in the non-alcoholic space. By highlighting unique flavor combinations (mango, hibiscus, and chili) and artisanal production methods, brands can captivate consumers seeking authentic and meaningful drinking experiences. This approach not only celebrates cultural diversity but also taps into the growing consumer interest in crafted products.

Supplements are also getting a share of the category with brands like Kin Euphorics and Recess incorporating mood-boosting L-Theanine, ashwagandha, and magnesium into their formulations. This functional beverage approach aligns with the health-conscious mindset of many consumers and creates opportunities for targeted marketing campaigns focused on specific wellness benefits.

Apart from cans, an innovative format that has caught our eye is Sayso's tea bag mocktails. By offering a convenient, steepable solution that transforms ordinary water into a sophisticated, flavorful beverage, this allows for greater levels of customization and sustainability. The versatility of products like these—equally enjoyable on their own or as a base for crafting spirit-free cocktails—opens up a world of possibilities for consumers seeking both convenience and personalization.


Common Mistakes to Avoid

A mistake seen frequently when crafting go-to-market strategies for clients is that their products are not differentiated enough from the competition. In the beverage category, great flavor and enjoyable drinking experiences are given. (Otherwise, why would you buy it in the first place?) Unless you lean into really unique global ingredients (cardamom, yuzu, pomelo), your brand will likely need something else to hang its hat on. 

Leading with a product’s low-calorie count—though a plus—can also feel uninspired, especially with zero-calorie seltzers to compete with. Consider other health-forward claims that might appeal to health-conscious consumers, like “free from refined sugar” or made with 100% plant-based ingredients. Still, these are all features of the product, not your main positioning. 

 If you’re still coming up blank, talk to a brand strategy expert about storytelling opportunities about how it’s made or where your ingredients come from. 

Anticipating Roadblocks: Challenges in Promoting NA Drinks

As wine, beer, and spirits companies add no-alcohol options to their portfolios, there is potential for these products to cannibalize sales of their core product lines. Especially if they’re priced significantly lower than their alcoholic counterparts, new product development (NPD) could be more attractive to cost-conscious consumers.

Creating distinct brand architecture or identities within the company can help mitigate concerns around cannibalization and brand dilution. By keeping NA offerings separate from core product lines, you can more effectively target wellness-minded consumers' unique needs and preferences without confusing your loyal fan base.

While significant marketing and education efforts may be needed to shift the perception of your company as just an alcohol brand, established companies have the opportunity to leverage their expertise in producing elevated, artisanal drinks. By emphasizing high-quality ingredients, sophisticated flavor profiles, and innovative production methods, they could differentiate themselves from newcomers and appeal to consumers looking for premium options without alcohol.

Let's take a look at Wölffer Estate and how they nailed their non-alcoholic line. The label for Spring in a Bottle perfectly vibes with the master brand's eclectic, artistic flair. But what really caught our attention was their full non-alcoholic collection, including red, white, and rosé verjus. The packaging has this beautifully minimalist look with bold typography that just pops. You can tell Wölffer put a lot of thought into making their non-alcoholic offerings feel like a cohesive yet distinct part of their brand family.

Shifting the current perception of your brand could involve collaborating with influencers, sponsoring health-focused events, and developing content that highlights the benefits and quality of your NA offerings. (The right influencers can also add credibility to your brand.) Transparent communication about their motivations and commitment to the NA space could help establish credibility.

Future-Proofing Your Beverage Portfolio

The non-alcoholic beverage revolution presents an opportunity for brands to future-proof their businesses and secure long-term relevance. By embracing this cultural shift with strategic marketing and innovative product development, you can position your brand as a leader in the mindful drinking movement. 

Rather than viewing the rise of non-alcoholic beverages as a threat, see it as a chance to adapt and thrive. With a comprehensive NA strategy, you'll not only meet the evolving demands of today's consumers but also align your brand for sustained growth and success. 

As consumer preferences continue to evolve, those who proactively embrace change will be the ones to lead the way. Don't let this opportunity pass you by – partner with marketing experts to develop a robust non-alcoholic beverage strategy that positions your brand as a trailblazer in this ever-changing market.

Ashley Mason
Senior Communication Strategist

Ashley Mason is intrinsically curious and passionate about driving customer growth for her clients. By day, she develops digital content for healthcare, wine, and other premium brands. By night, she enjoys renovating her 1920s home and discovering new bottles of bubbly.

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