Understanding the growth in ‘teetotalism’ and the rise of the ‘sober curious’ movement is incredibly important for anyone with an interest in the hospitality industry. Although this trend has only been discovered by mainstream media over the last few years, the fact is that over the last three decades Britain’s alcohol consumption has declined significantly. At face value, these developments may seem highly unfavourable for anyone running a bar, hotel or restaurant, but learning about this new trend allows for the opportunities to develop new products that appeal to new markets. Let’s start by looking at why people are choosing to reduce their consumption of alcoholic beverages:
- People Are Becoming More Health Conscious
In the age of social media, people are becoming increasingly conscious about appearances. We’ve seen a huge growth in the fitness industry as more young people actively seek ways to care for their bodies. For many, the ‘empty calories’ contained in alcoholic drinks just aren’t worth it in the grand scheme of things. It’s not all superficial, either; There is also increased awareness about the mental health consequences of alcohol consumption and its links to conditions like anxiety and depression.
- Alcohol is Expensive
We are living in an era where even young professionals with flourishing careers simply can’t afford to buy property the same way their parents could. Anyone looking to make sensible investments and build some security for their future will need to save rather than be frivolous with their cash. And when it comes to boozing, the sheer cost is enough to put many people off. Alcohol prices in the UK are amongst the highest in the EU and look set to increase as Brexit becomes a reality.
- Young People Are Becoming More Career-Driven
The job market is becoming increasingly competitive thanks to globalisation, technology and a recession. People are caught up with getting ahead in the workplace and no longer have the luxury to overindulge and wake up with a raging hangover the next morning.
- Social Lives Are Moving Online
As the recent COVID-19 lockdown demonstrated thanks to technology, it is possible to take our social lives online. Furthermore, the rise of digital entertainment platforms like BBC iPlayer means that people have endless choices when it comes to finding something to watch, so for many, staying in has become the new “going out”.
- Bars Are Providing Alcohol-Free Alternatives
People are learning that life without alcohol doesn’t have to be dull. In recent years, we’ve seen the rise in the number of non-alcoholic and low-alcohol alternatives, such as alcohol-free wine and craft beer, beautifully curated mocktails and good quality coffees. And while people may not consume these beverages at the same levels as they would have done with beer, they are willing to pay for quality. So whether it’s a top-notch coffee from a bespoke brand such as Abbey Coffee or one of Sipling’s alcohol-free cocktails this is a market that’s looking for innovation.
It’s apparent that things are rapidly changing in the hospitality industry, but not all change is negative. One thing is for certain, this is a highly creative and resilient sector of the UK’s economy that is sure to respond to consumer trends in pragmatic and nuanced ways. In fact, the emergence of alcohol-free bars demonstrates how this industry is already ahead of the game in terms of predicting what customers want. So, if you are a bar or restaurant owner, it may be time to ask yourself whether you are doing enough to tap into these growing markets?