Covid-19 boosts market for local, healthy drinks

Drinks manufactured locally are set to benefit from the covid-19 pandemic, gaining popularity as consumers “rally behind symbolic and job-sustaining producers”, according to IWSR.

The latest analysis of how the crisis is shaping the alcohol industry also suggested that new drinking habits were forming. Regular drinking occasions are changing due to bar closures and restrictions, as well as the “growing profile of better low- and no-alcohol alternatives”.

“In the top countries for low- and no-alcohol products, no-alcohol beer is set to grow its share of the beer category to 4.45% by 2024, as sober and moderating consumers embrace newly improved products across a wide range of occasions,” said IWSR.

Health-conscious drinkers are also likely to trade up to a higher- quality drink or “one they perceive as healthier when they do choose to drink”.

Drinks with functional attributes are a growing niche “We expect hard seltzers to resonate with the UK consumer, tapping into the cues that have contributed to their success in the US, such as the perception of the category as being healthier than alternatives, and transparency with regards to its ABV, calorie, sugar and carb content,” explained Humphrey Serjeantson, IWSR’s research director for Western Europe, in a recent blog.

Brands will need to tailor marketing for the UK audience however; or risk falling foul of Advertising Standards Authority rules. A number of high-profile hard seltzer adverts in the US reference sports and fitness. But in the UK an alcoholic beverage cannot “make any health, fitness or weight-control claims”. The industry needs to be careful that the bad press Alcopops received in the 90s does not repeat itself, noted IWSR.

The experts also predicted that shifts toward health and sustainability are likely to continue in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic. “This will have implications for the whole beverage alcohol industry, from production and packaging to distribution and administration.”

The report highlights how “alignment with environmental and social issues confers a growing ‘badge value’ to brands built around particular values. As we are witnessing during 2020’s coronavirus pandemic and antiracism protests, consumers want brands that are authentic in their response to environmental and social concerns.”

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