In addition to participating in Dry January, a growing number of consumers are also opting for zero-proof liquors and alcohol-free beers year-round. NielsenIQ recently reported that the total sales of non-alcoholic drinks in the United States grew by 20.6% between August 2021 and August 2022, and in 2022, Pinterest saw searches for “fancy non-alcoholic drinks” grow by 220% year-over-year. On Faire, we saw a 250% year-over-year increase in searches for “non-alcoholic” and “alcohol-free” between 2021 and 2022, leading us to predict that this sober curious trend will continue to rise in the new year.
We’ve gathered some of the latest industry research and data from brands and retailers on Faire to give you a bigger picture of the growing sober curious trend, and how you can meet the growing consumer demand for non-alcoholic beverages in 2023.
What is the sober curious trend?
Many people have seen the benefits of abstaining during Dry January, taking breaks from alcohol throughout the year, or giving up alcohol altogether. However, consumers who opt for no-alcohol or low-alcohol drinks often don’t want to sacrifice the fun of socializing or sophisticated food and drink pairings these days. Studies and surveys—like this recent report by CivicScience—reveal that young people today are less interested in alcohol than previous generations, and the desire for a more balanced and mindful lifestyle has permeated every generation.
“A growing number of consumers are reevaluating their relationship with alcohol and looking for alternatives that allow them to stay social while simultaneously cutting back,” says Dermot Woods, omnichannel marketplace manager at Athletic Brewing. “The broader trend of mindfulness and moderation is definitely real. Roughly 80% of Athletic customers still drink alcohol, but many are choosing to save alcohol for the weekends or special events.”
Experts have forecasted that the non-alcoholic beverage category will grow by about 23% annually between 2022 and 2026. There’s no end in sight to this movement on social media either. The hashtag #sobercurious has more than 301 million views on TikTok while #dryjanuary has over 86 million views and #mocktail has upward of 670 million views.
“We’re seeing a huge number of customers seeking mocktail recipes these days,” says Lauren Butler, co-founder of Yes Cocktail Co. “For many of us, drinking is all about enjoying flavors and unwinding, and getting intoxicated is an unwanted by-product. Whether it’s health-related or wanting to stay engaged in conversation socially, more and more people are sober curious, at least occasionally.”
Non-alcoholic beverage interest on Faire
On Faire, we’ve seen the rise in popularity of non-alcoholic beverages firsthand. Purchases of non-alcoholic beverage products increased by more than 450% globally on Faire between 2021 and 2022. The most popular non-alcoholic spirits for U.S. retailers on Faire include zero-proof gin, tequila, whiskey, rum, and mezcal. Some popular non-alcoholic beers being purchased by U.S. retailers on Faire include Run Wild IPA and Free Wave Hazy IPA from Athletic Brewing Company and Hellraiser Dark Amber from WellBeing Brewing.
Around the country, we saw retailers in California and New York buying and stocking the most non-alcoholic beverages ahead of Dry January. Retailers in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Virginia followed closely behind.
What the experts are saying
We spoke with the people who know firsthand just how much staying power the sober curious trend holds. From mocktail experts to zero-proof spirit brands, here’s what experts in the world of non-alcoholic beverages have to say about the impact of this trend and what’s next for the alcohol-free market.
Inspired by the French ethos of pleasure and restraint, De Soi is a range of non-alcoholic sparkling apéritifs founded by Katy Perry and Morgan McLachlan in 2020. Each of their apéritifs is full of natural botanicals and adaptogens and offers an alcohol-free alternative for happy hour.
“The non-alcoholic trend is here to stay, and it’s only getting bigger and more prevalent,” says Scout Brisson, CEO of De Soi. “I see conversations happening everywhere about drinking less—on LinkedIn, in major publications, on my ‘For You’ page on TikTok. People are reevaluating their relationship with alcohol, they’re understanding the impact alcohol has on their health, or on their sleep, and they’re making a conscious decision to drink less even if just for one night or a single round.”
Figlia is a modern, non-alcoholic aperitivo company based in New York City. The company was founded in 2020 by Lily Geiger in honor of her late father, who battled alcoholism. Figlia was born out of Geiger’s desire for community without the pressures of drinking alcohol.
“I see the sober curious trend as a very crucial extension of the greater health initiatives we’ve been witnessing in the past 10 years or so,” says Geiger. “It was only a matter of time before people started second-guessing alcohol in their day-to-day life.”
Geiger notes that the growth of options when it comes to non-alcoholic beverages is also helping fuel this trend.
“There are tons of new non-alcoholic brands emerging into the small but growing market, and there are non-alcoholic bottle shops popping up all around the world to honor and serve only these products. With so many sophisticated non-alcoholic options on the market, it makes it easier for people to continue to partake in the joy of having a ritual without feeling hungover or groggy the next day.”
Seedlip came to life in 2015 after founder Ben Branson grew frustrated with the lack of sophisticated and premium alternatives to alcohol and the overly sweet mocktails often offered in its place. Today, Seedlip has perfected premium non-alcoholic spirits and carries the beverage in three unique flavors.
“There’s been consistent interest and consumer demand for the Seedlip portfolio since its launch in the U.S.,” says senior marketing manager Nicholas Rowland. “We’ve secured listings at some of the country’s best bars, restaurants, hotels, and retailers nationwide. It’s clear we’re meeting consumers’ demands for new and different flavors, a consideration for more mindful options, and products with a compelling ingredient story.”
As this trend continues to take off, stocking non-alcoholic beverages is becoming increasingly important for bars, restaurants, and retail stores, advises Rowland.
“Now, good hospitality means inclusive beverage menus and moderation, which means you can still go to the bar and enjoy an elevated and delicious low-proof cocktail without compromising on quality and taste.”
Inspired by summers by the Mediterranean, Ghia is a spirits-free apéritif adapted for modern times. Ghia is all about inclusivity and hopes to encourage consumers to enjoy the connection, laughter, and togetherness that come with sharing a drink—minus the alcohol.
“People choose sober lifestyles for various reasons,” says founder Melanie Masarin. “The growth of alcohol alternative beverages and the sober curious movement is only going to accelerate in 2023. There’s a growing awareness and so many exciting new brands for consumers to try.”
Mocktail expert Tori Bertschy offers her unique mocktail recipes and alcohol-free lifestyle expertise at workshops, events, and through her Mocktail Starter Packs that feature Faire brands such as Sostraw and Yes Cocktail Co.
“A lot of people have started to realize that alcohol just doesn’t make them feel their best,” says Bertschy. “But society has glamorized alcohol in a way that makes it part of nearly every social interaction. As more people are looking to take care of their physical and mental health, they’re looking for ways they can socialize that don’t revolve around alcohol.”
As demand for non-alcoholic options grows, Bertschy says it’s wise for retail stores to get on board.
“Retailers should consider stocking non-alcoholic beverages in their stores to provide better options for people who want an option other than water. There are so many delicious non-alcoholic options out there, but there hasn’t been enough distribution. More and more, people are seeking out retailers that carry the breadth of non-alcoholic beverages.”
Shop our Dry January collection on Faire.