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‘Don’t judge low-and-no drinks on their sales’

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Free-from: alcohol-free is big and you need to focus on it
Free-from: alcohol-free is big and you need to focus on it
Pubs need to go all in on low-and-no alcohol drinks, whether the sales currently stack up or not because they may risk missing out on the genuinely rising demand for the category.

That’s according to Andy Wingate, category development controller, Heineken UK, who said the statistics say it all. There are fewer going-out occasions and, although when people do go out they spend more, it still doesn’t make up the difference.

Once upon a time, consumers were thinking about wellness in the early part of the week, but then by midweek or Thursday, that would go out of the window, he explained, and come Friday and the weekend, it was all about indulgence.

Not the case anymore

That was great for the pub, but that isn’t necessarily the case anymore, with most consumers now thinking about wellness every day of the week, including weekends.

“Health is leading what consumers are looking for right through the week. They want healthier food and they want low-and-no options in drinks too,” said Wingate.  

“There’s huge potential in the low-and-no market and we’re seeing ambition and appetite behind this from operators and producers alike. Operators are driving the uptake of this because consumers want to moderate and focus on their health when they’re going out.”

This is hugely important now and data suggests it will be increasingly important going forward, he added.

“We believe that getting a really great low-or-no alcohol range behind your bar is important as 15% of consumers say it’s an increased reason to go to a venue,” added Wingate.

Craft beer range

“Consumers say that even if they were drinking a 5% ABV Heineken, they wanted a craft beer range and a great gin range because it shows it’s a dynamic bar.”

This also extends to low-and-no alcohol drinks, he said, adding that a bottle of Seedlip on the back bar or a couple of low/no options in the fridge just won’t cut it anymore.

“The pub should be a place to go even if you’re not drinking alcohol. We need to make sure every consumer knows those options are available.”

Such trends can also transcend into draught lager, as Otto Esser, commercial head of Blade development, Heineken UK, explained: “We’re a nation of draught lovers with nine out of 10 people saying they would love a pint over a bottle. That’s great, because that’s what we’re good at in our trade.”

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