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Sober Curious? Exploring the World of NABs  

Sober curiousness is a movement aimed at helping those looking to make healthier choices with alcohol and understand all the implications that come with drinking it. The movement is picking up speed with the popularity of non-alcoholic (NA) or low-alcohol (NoLo or Near Beer) beverages at bars and social gatherings. Health-conscious young consumers are taking on a flexible approach by choosing when to drink alcohol and limiting consumption to special occasions, i.e., “Sober at the Bar.”  Those who are participating in a sober lifestyle are considered an exploring consumer – looking for sensory adventures through flavor, health, and social experiences. In turn, brands are introducing more non-alcoholic options for societal pressures of drinking in social situations.  

Partnering for the Unexpected 

Annie Anne’s and Evil Genius Beer Company have collaborated to make a low-alcohol beer to compete with lighter options such as hard seltzers and ciders. This pretzel-infused beer does well at engaging the consumer through a sensory drinking experience by using nostalgia (A Twist on Oktoberfest). A growing consciousness for mental and physical fitness is being translated into the adult beverage industry. This is being translated through interesting partnerships as seen between Athletic Brewing and Super Coffee who put out a campaign focusing on the coffee-flavored non-alcoholic beer they created together. It’s meant to be the world’s first pre-workout brew, inspired by positive energy, and working hard (YouTube, 2023). Also, HOP WTR, a non-alcoholic sparkling brewed water, has seen the opportunity in seasonal challenges like Dry January and Sober October by releasing a locker to keep alcohol out of sight, and then releasing the combination once the month is over. Meanwhile, participants receive a month’s worth of the company’s product to promote the non-alcoholic lifestyle and, hopefully, getting them hooked for the entirety of the year (Lock Away Your Alcohol).  

Staying Involved  

A large concern for non-alcoholic consumers is the fear of missing out (FOMO) during social situations. Roxie, a zero-proof cocktail in a can, ensures sober-curious consumers can participate in drinking environments without feeling left out by catering to those looking for maturity in a cocktail (Zero-proof Craft Cocktail). The idea is that alcohol brands that provide options for low- and no-alcohol enjoyment, and being aware of consumers' desire for responsible consumption, will have an easier go at staying in the conversation and being relevant (Zero-proof Limoncello, 2023). Those who participate in the sober lifestyle are looking to be included through more non-alcoholic bars, events and restaurants that provide spaces for consumers to have enjoyable experiences among like-minded individuals (Non-alcoholic Aperitif, 2023).   

Is Alcohol Taboo? 

Not necessarily. The alcohol industry will see a hit in profits, but can also see a boost in novelty lines and experiences. Alcoholic beverage brands are branching into categories such as ice cream, desserts, snacks, and sweets to bring a renewed vibrancy to their drinks and brand (Epiphany Beer, 2022). Miller collaborated with a New York-based boozy ice cream maker to create a limited-edition flavor of peanut swirl with a hint of tobacco smoke to mimic the smell and taste of a dive bar. One-of-a-kind ice cream flavors have become a way for brands to grow into the consumer’s everyday life. Recently, a Mexico-based canned food company expanded its portfolio with sauces made from beer, tequila, and pulque. This is a perfect marriage of Mexico’s famous flavors and highlighting its high performance in the alcoholic beverage industry.  

A Trend That Sticks  

Considering the momentum behind the sober-curious movement gives us the indication that this trend is here to stay! Consumers are steadily looking after their health in all aspects and will continue to do so looking forward. Restaurants and bars may want to consider adding NoLo- friendly beverage options to their menus for the niche crowd that wants to stay social and skip the headache the next day.