It’s Dry January, And Less Alcohol is "In" for 2018

January 09, 2018

It’s Dry January, And Less Alcohol is "In" for 2018

Trends indicate booze-free or less alcohol drinks could grow more popular in 2018.

For some, the hangover from the holiday season leaves little to be desired when it comes to drinking alcohol. And in the US, where 27% of adults over age 18 report binge drinking and alcohol abuse, it’s alarming to think about the health and safety consequences related to drinking too much alcohol. But there are statistics and trends that may be signaling a change in the way some approach alcohol. And since it’s Dry January, maybe it’s a good time to talk about those trends. 

Dry January is a public health campaign that started in the United Kingdom to encourage people to abstain from drinking for the month of January in hopes that the time taken off from alcohol could help shape healthier practices. According to Alcohol Concern, the organization that appears to have started this movement (or have been at the forefront), millions of people participate and are able to change their relationship with alcohol and drive more conversation about why we drink and what alcohol does to our bodies. In fact, there’s an app for those who want to participate that tracks progress, money saved, calories reduced, and offers motivational messages. . Alcohol Concern claims that an estimated 5 million Britons went dry in 2017 and that’s not including the reach to the US, Australia, and significant social media presence. 

According to IWSR, global alcohol consumption decreased by 1.3% in 2016 compared to the previous five years of a .3% average rate. The US did not see a decline in consumption, but we can’t help but notice that in the past couple of years, studies and researchers have profiled Millennials as not being the heavy drinkers the older generations are, and Gen Z coming up is even less interested in alcohol. 

For those shoppers moving away from alcohol, now is a great time to not only support the Dry January health campaign as a whole, but also to embrace that mocktail trend we keep hearing about. Exotic non-alcoholic drinks are starting to appear on restaurant menus, and food retailers and grocerants are presented with a great opportunity to offer non-alcoholic mixology lessons and recipes. With fresh juices, teas, lemon, herbs and spices, chefs are coming up with some bold combinations for the more health-conscious customer. 

But also for those that don’t abstain completely from alcohol, a more mindful approach to alcohol appears to be emerging. In a Bon Appetit story on 2018’s top five food trends, the European Wine Bar was included in the list, but with the concern that Americans won’t really get it right. The idea is a quick stop drink before or after a meal. They go on to say Americans’ want to linger and eat and drink in bars for three hours, but the European style wine bar is meant for about 45 minutes. Perhaps this a trend worth nudging American consumers into learning all about. For one, it encourages more responsible drinking, but also offers more of an opportunity for wine and cocktail lovers to savor and enjoy more premium products. In other words, if you don’t have four drinks, you can spend a little more on just one.  

And when it comes to beer, one of the most widely consumed beverages around the world, 2017 saw the introduction of a new no-alcohol beer form Heineken and a commitment from Budweiser to make 20% of their beer products low or no-alcohol by 2025. And you’ll start to notice some craft beers doing the same.  

Healthy alcohol consumption has many benefits, besides avoiding the obvious physical deterioration it can cause to our bodies and toll it can take on overall mental wellness. With consumption in moderation, consumers can enjoy having more budget flexibility to explore premium products, a more pleasing social experience, and in the case of beverages like red wine, maybe even benefit from the heart-healthy properties.