Raising the Bar: A marketer’s guide to an evolving sober-ish community

May 19, 2022

The future is sober-ish.

At a global market value of nearly $10B, the non-alcoholic and low-alcohol (NoLo) market is growing rapidly. And while many alcohol-based delivery apps noted surges in the year-one Spring of COVID-19, conversation volume around sobriety and alcohol reduction nearly tripled (+270%) between March 2020 and March 2022 (Netbase, 2022). The category might soon implode as people approach drinking with more mindfulness and moderation, leading us to wonder what a sober-ish future might look like.

Our survey of 1,200+ adults 21+ revealed that 2 in 3 are what we’re calling Practically Sober – some, but not all are fully sober, and many are changing behaviors for practical and purposeful reasons. Within this group, one segment is changing the alcohol beverage category entirely: people who have reduced or quit drinking alcohol within the past two years. These New Reducers make up 15% of adults 21+, and the majority are under the age of 35. We project this shift in behavior will have direct implications on the future of the alcohol market, with a potential loss of between $1B and $5B annually, as this age group makes up a critical buyer segment. 

We uncovered five key drivers steering people’s changing relationships with alcohol:

  • The pandemic limited traditional socializing for those entering early adulthood
  • Self-care is mainstreaming as essential care
  • Constant chaos drives people to take control
  • Unconventional remedies are redefining sobriety

Click ‘Download PDF’ below to access the full report.

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