The growing thirst of the health-conscious drinker

The growing thirst of the health-conscious drinker

When I started working in agencies 10 years ago, everyone wanted to work with a booze brand. I remember a particularly embarrassing episode in my first agency when we ‘wooed’ Diageo and Brown Forman brand managers outside their HQs with a piano and swing dancers. Not my finest moment.

However, the landscape is changing with Millennials and Gen Xers becoming more health-conscious than previous generations, astute alcohol companies are now looking to alternative options for consumers seeking a healthier or even sober lifestyle.

When I was pregnant in 2016, there were very few no-alcohol brands available on the market in the UK. Yet while on holiday in the US, there seemed to be a plethora of low/no-alcohol options available in bars and shops. Three years on, the UK is finally catching up. Abstaining from alcohol once more (thanks to growing another tiny human), I have alcohol free craft beers coming out of my ears. And for every BBQ we hosted this summer, at least two bottles of non-alcoholic prosecco were proudly presented to me by a beaming girlfriend, smug that they had found one that ‘actually tastes like the real thing’.

According to Nielsen, £43m was spent on no/low-alcohol beers in the UK last year, an increase of 28%. Although they still only make up 0.2% of the beer market, Heineken predict that the category could be worth £250m in just three years. In May this year, Heineken launched its ‘Say Yes’ campaign to promote its cross brand zero-alcohol range as a way to enable positive lifestyle choices.

As the no/low-alcohol category continues to rise in the UK driven by consumers making healthy lifestyle choices this presents brand marketers with more opportunities than ever before to communicate with consumers.

However, it is to the US that I look once more to predict the next craze to be born from booze brands – hard seltzers. These alcoholic, flavoured sparkling waters are low-calorie, low-sugar and low-carb the perfect antidote to a burgeoning trend. And driven by Millennials who are not only more health-conscious but also more purpose driven.

Our North American counterparts at MSL understand only too well the explosion in the category, having worked with brand leader White Claw for the past three years - propelling the brand into a pop-culture phenomenon. Sales of the brand have surged 320% since last year and account for 54% of the hard seltzer market in the US.

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MSL in North America have been working with White Claw since 2016. Could hard seltzers be the new trend to hit the UK alcohol market?

White Claw’s communications strategy has taken advantage of targeting young men as well as women having identified the opportunity to reach this new health conscious consumer early on. They have utilised user-generated content (UGC) to fuel earned media coverage, purposefully steering clear of polished ads and models.

"The outpouring of UGC content, brand love and pop-culture relevance is incredible," says Jamie Dammrich, VP at MSL North America. "Everything we do and how we represent the brand, from the stories we tell to the partners we enlist, is structured to appeal to both men and women. These efforts are making headway and media are taking notice of the balanced male-female hard seltzer and White Claw consumer." 

Savvy alcohol brands will already have plans for comparable hard seltzers to hit UK shelves in order to take advantage of this new consumer movement. Kopparberg were first out the blocks with their Balans ‘alcohol-infused sparkling water’ brand, which launched earlier this year. However, we are yet to see concerted marcomms efforts in this category in the UK. Communications teams should therefore be ready to react, in order to reach this growing audience that place greater value on their wellbeing.

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