Coined by author Ruth Warrington, “sober curious” and the movement itself is defined as, “having an option to question or change drinking habits to promote health and wellness benefits,” according to PureWow. It’s about starting the conversation with yourself first and feeling empowered to open your eyes to the choices that are best for you.
In fact, Millennials and Gen Zers are leading the way with the sober curious movement. This may be due to the rise of both generations breaking generational traumas and in turn wanting to be the best version of themselves in all aspects, including health.
According to the 2020 Cocktail Trends Report, “low- to no-alcoholic beverages are the number one trend and have seen more Google searches than the previous year.” In this blog, Allen Marketing Communications, Inc., a boutique food, beverage, and lifestyle public relations agency based in New York City, spotlights key insights as it pertains to the sober curious movement.
What is a Mocktail?
Let’s begin with the basics. A Mocktail is simply a cocktail-style beverage prepared without alcohol. This non-alcoholic beverage is designed to mimic the presentation and sophistication of artisan cocktails, many even going as far as recreating the complex flavor profiles of different liquors.
A Shirley Temple can be referred to as a Mocktail, but it just doesn’t hold the same visual effect as a cocktail. A well-crafted Mocktail on the other hand does, but we’ll touch on this trend later.
What Is Inspiration for the Sober Curious Movement?
During the initial stages of the lockdown, alcohol sales skyrocketed because everyone stocked up on their favorite liquors. Suddenly, there was a shift in people’s attitude towards alcohol and, “alcohol consumption dropped worldwide as the appeal of drinking at home, weight gain, and health concerns began to set in for many people,” according to Symrise.
It is generally hypothesized that due to the pause of all social events and gatherings, the “social element of drinking disappeared,” as concluded by Synergy Consultants. This means that while people have been away from their favorite establishments with liquor galore, they finally have had the time to step away from their old drinking habits and evaluate their relationship with alcohol.
Of course, there always is the exception. Many took the lockdown as an opportunity to virtually drink with their friends, but recovering from a hangover is never enjoyable, much less without your friends.
Non-alcoholic consumption is quickly catching up. Symrise found that, “all over the world, low to no alcohol consumption is projected to increase by 34 percent.”
How To Let Go What No Longer Serves You?
As previously mentioned, sober curiosity starts the conversation, and in turn “helps break a stigma long associated with sobriety—i.e., you don’t have to be an alcoholic to be sober,” Sarasota Magazine. This rising trend allows for those who want to make better health choices to segway into healthier lifestyles.
According to Roland Foods, a Nielson report found “22 percent of consumers have been planning to cut their alcohol intake and when questioned on this, “people noted going out less and losing interest in alcohol as the top two reasons.”
Very well Health notes, “the evidence is clear that alcohol increases the risk of heart disease, liver damage, breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, and dementia.” Yet, we continue to associate alcohol, “with both celebrations and self-care.”
Top Five Mocktail Trends
Millennials and Gen Z are enjoying their sober curious lifestyles by ordering Mocktails. Here are some trends to keep an eye out next time you decide to go bar hopping with your group of friends.
Presentation and Prep
With each new creation, mocktails are becoming popular just because they’re more Instagrammable. This achievement can be credited towards the prep work and presentation. Finishing touches like garnishes, herbs, spices, fruit infusions, are what ultimately sell a drink because it completes the experience.
One form of prep work is crushing ingredients, such as fruits, herbs, and/or citruses at the bottom of the glass. This is called muddling and its main purpose is to release the juices and/or activate the flavors to achieve the desired taste.
Alcohol Free Bars
Mocktails, also commonly referred to as zero proof drinks, are paving their way in the food and service industry. Symrise” found that there is a rising market for non-alcoholic versions of beer, wine, and spirits, which has led to the creation of more complex flavors and styles.”
And it’s true, there is a rising trend. Major beer, wine and spirits companies are rolling out alcohol free line extensions.
Mocktail Special Menus
Around the months of Dry January or Sober October, establishments can offer Mocktails for a limited time only, while others have year-round placement. It just all depends on the business.
Many restaurants are expanding their selection of mocktails, frequently providing alcoholic and alcohol-free versions of the house or specialty cocktails. “It’s more about mimicking the experience than the taste,” Symrise noted, “which can be achieved with spices and extracts that recreate the familiar burn of a strong liquor.”
People who are interested in the mocktail trend, but want to pursue at their own pace can do so from the comfort of their own home. Similarly, to cocktail kits, mocktail kits are monthly subscriptions that offer customers different supplies to stock their bar with bitters, infusion jars, sugar cubes, syrups, assortments, etc.
Those who want to improve and control their own non-alcoholic experience, but don’t have the budget for a monthly subscription can tune in to YouTube. You’d be surprised at the amount of tutorials you can find there.
Alcohol Free Spirits
Mentioned previously, it’s all about the experience when it comes to cocktails or mocktails. This is why capturing the sensation of alcohol is key in delivering the full experience and mocktails have come such a long way.
Before, when people opted out of drinking, their choices were limited. Water, sodas, and juices being some of the only options.
Today, the options are endless and alcohol-free spirits look very similar to the branding and packaging of alcoholic spirits. With production improving and not tasting like sparkling flavored water, it also doesn’t ostracize those who don’t want a drink.
The sober curious movement presents endless opportunities for wine and spirits companies to add new product extensions and reach Millennials and Gen Zers embracing this trend. Our food and beverage and lifestyle public relations specialists are here to help marketers reach this market.
By Rania Perales at Allen Marketing Communications, Inc.