Dry January movement grows presenting opportunity for non-alcoholic beverage brands

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Photo Credit: Getty Images / Maren Caruso
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Maren Caruso

Related tags Dry January non-alcoholic

Many consumers are reporting to take part in Dry January by either abstaining completely or significantly cutting down ('Damp January') on their alcohol consumption for the month, presenting year-long opportunities for the non-alcoholic beverage brands, says Morning Consult.

Dry January participation grew to 19% this year with nearly one in five consumers reporting eliminating alcohol for the month, up from 13% in 2021, and millennials largely driving the trend, according to a survey by Morning Consult​ (n=2,085), which found that millennials made up 27% of respondents participating in Dry January followed by Gen X at 17% and Baby Boomers at 13%.

The Dry January movement appears to have a high retention rate as well, as 77% of those who said they previously participated are doing so again this year, noted Morning Consult food and beverage analyst, Emily Moquin.

Damp January?

While the month-long trend likely won't result in total abstinence for the entire year, it will kickstart a new wave of consumer interest in non-alcoholic beverages creating new opportunities for beverage manufacturers, noted Moquin. 

"One reason Dry January may be growing is that many participants don’t plan to go all-in. In line with current consumer mindsets that value balance over ultimatums, only half of the participants plan to abstain from alcohol completely, while the rest are taking a more moderate approach that merely involves less drinking,"​ wrote Moquin. 

The survey found that over half (52%) of Dry January participants said they will not drink at all in January, while 23% plan to only drink a few days in January.

Primary motivations to cut down on drinking include wanting to improve their health (91% of respondents) and wanting to 'reset' (62%) their drinking habits for the new year, according to the survey. 

"Consumers likely feel they can achieve these objectives even with a modified approach to Dry January,"​ noted Moquin. 

Untapped opportunity for beverage brands

Despite Dry January participants being more likely to purchase non-alcoholic versions of their favorite libations including zero-proof beer, wine, and spirits, the consumer adoption of these alternative products remains relatively low. 

According to Morning Consult, 33% of respondents plan to purchase non-alcoholic beer, 30% plan to purchase non-alcoholic wine, and 27% plan to purchased booze-free cocktail products. 

However, consumer interest in low- and no-alcohol products continues to grow giving rise to a flurry of new entrants into the burgeoning category. According to NielsenIQ, sales for the no- and low-alcohol beverage category hit $3.1bn in 2021, a 10.4% increase from the year prior with non-alcoholic spirits leading the charge registering 113.4% year-over-year sales growth, compared to 39.4% increased in non-alcoholic wines and 31.7% increase for non-alcoholic beers. 

This presents a large untapped opportunity and room to grow for non-alcoholic beverage brands, noted Moquin, who said the best way to reach the sober curious crowd is by tapping into word-of-mouth opportunities

"Word-of-mouth seems to be driving the Dry January movement: 39 percent of those who say they have heard about Dry January are participating. In addition, more participants cite undertaking Dry January as part of a group, and beverage brands can benefit from this word-of-mouth and group participation with the right messaging to generate buzz,"​ added Moquin

"As the movement picks up momentum and participating friends share their experiences with one another, there is opportunity for the growing nonalcoholic beverage market to gain awareness and potentially year-round attention."​ 

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