‘Zebra striping’ drinking on the increase

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Zebra striping drinking increasing in popularity

Related tags LowNoProject low2no Alcohol-free beer KAM Lucky Saint

One in three visits to the pub are alcohol-free (AF) and a quarter of drinkers are alternating between full-strength alcohol and AF when visiting the on-trade.

The new research from KAM and AF beer brand Lucky Saint also discovered where an individual is combining alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks while not necessarily ‘zebra striping’, this figure rises to two in three UK adults – and as high as 78% of 18 to 24-year-olds.

The new report 2024 Low and No: Drinking Differently​ was launched on Wednesday (5 June) with its authors looking at evolving drinking habits across the UK, showing moderation is becoming more widespread across the nation.

Some three out of four UK adults are actively moderating their consumption of alcohol across 2024, which is backed up by last year’s sales data with low and no sales faring strongly in summer, during the festive season and in January.

A notable decline in the number of UK adults consuming alcohol more than once a month has been reported, with the figure dropping to 88% in 2024, down from 93% in 2023 (95% in 2022). This coincides with 11m UK adults (16% of UK adults) trying low and no alcohol beer for the first time in the last 12 months.

Love for pub remains

According to KAM Insights, more than a fifth of 18 to 24s claim to not drink alcohol, the highest of any age group. The report also found that 53% of this age category report visiting a pub or bar once a week or more.

With more than one in three pubs visits by UK adults being alcohol-free, the report highlighted how the UK’s love for the pub continues to endure.

While younger people’s consumption of alcohol declines, the pub remains cemented as the place for social connection. There is a clear demand from younger people for quality alcohol-free options, with 68% saying they have left a venue early or disappointed due to poor low & no options, in the past three months.

The report also showed the sway a non-drinker can have on the choice of venues as 65% of UK adults say non-drinkers in their group influence the choice of venue – an increase from 46% in 2023. The figure in 2024 is higher among 18 to 24-year-olds at 85%.

KAM managing director Katy Moses said: “Increasing numbers of UK adults are actively moderating their alcohol consumption, whether driven by a desire to improve their physical or mental wellness or to save money.

“Active moderation (where people are actively changing their behaviour in order to consume less alcohol) is happening across all age groups and all days of the week – one in four UK adults say they employ tactics to moderate their alcohol consumption to some extent.”

No decrease in demand for the pub

She continued: “What’s key, however, is that a decrease in alcohol consumption doesn’t mean a decrease in the demand for great experiences in pubs, bars and restaurants. People don’t want to miss out on all the occasions where alcohol is normally present, going to the pub with friends, celebrating a birthday, enjoying a beer while watching sport, for example.

“The research identified that many are drinking differently now when they go out and embracing new moderation tactics such as alternating between alcoholic and alcohol-free drinks in the same evening, known as zebra striping.

“The future of socialising in the UK will certainly be less centred around alcohol.”

Lucky Saint founder Luke Boase added: “This report shows that the way people are moderating is continuing to evolve. Alongside traditional moderation moments like dry January, people are seeking to drink less year-round, and even alternating alcoholic and alcohol-free drinks on a night out.

“After thousands of years of centring social occasions around drinking – be it a pint of beer down the pub or a glass of Champagne to mark a special occasion – we’re seeing a rapid cultural shift in attitudes towards alcohol. Today, it’s exciting to see the continued rise of moderation, the way people are incorporating alcohol-free drinks in their lives, and the emergence of zebra striping.”

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