Curing the Dry January hangover
Dry January has become an increasingly popular fixture of consumers’ (and several of the Green Light team’s) calendars. For many, it’s a chance to reset one’s liver, health and general well-being after what may have been a hectic round of festive socialising. A quiet month socially, most consumers can reach 31st January without feeling they’ve missed out too much.
Indeed, across a number of recent projects researching low and non-alcoholic (NA) drinks, consumers have consistently told us that the offering in terms of range & quality keeps getting better, ensuring there’s a tipple that everyone can enjoy, and not just in January!
Having enjoyed their Dry January experience, more and more are now seeking to extend their abstinence into future months, changing their behaviour on a longer-term basis. An emerging sensation that we’re coining a ‘Janover’ – the struggle that one might feel when returning to drinking after a month of hangover-free bliss and unmatched productivity.
And the options for those nursing a Janover continue to grow. Taste has reached a level that in the eyes of most consumers, now matches or even surpasses that of their alcoholic counterparts. Both craft beer independents and larger breweries keen to get in on the action have created excellent non-alcoholic beers and the variety of spirits now available offers not just mocktail versatility but quality too. Though it must be said, NA wine does seems to be lagging behind somewhat.
Visually, non-alcoholic drinks have been raising the bar too. Seedlip are seen as the pioneers of desirable, display worthy NA packaging and brands such as Everleaf and High Point continue this trend. In fact, the overall look of many NA drinks has become so convincing, that we have even heard from consumers that they have got home from the shops, only to realise they have picked up an NA alternative by mistake. Often without much difference to the change left in their pocket! Both Gordon’s and Tanqueray are particularly guilty of their NA gins cleaving close to the original pack.
Although these products might look & taste great, consumers tell us they haven’t quite mastered the feeling of mild inebriation that alcohol provides, that helps them relax into the moment better.
That’s why we’ve been interested in developments in the sector led by neuropsychopharmacologist and former government drug advisor, Professor David Nutt and Sentia Spirits. Its range of drinks promises to harness drinkers’ GABA activity to deliver a feeling of relaxation and sociability consumers say they are looking for, without the need for any alcohol whatsoever.
Intrigued by this premise, we had to research Sentia ourselves. Across a series of occasions – home on a Friday night, at a friend’s birthday party, having friends round for a Sunday Roast – we consumed the drink neat & with tonic water and can report that it does indeed deliver an appealing – and just long-enough – tipsiness or ‘first-drink sweet spot’ as Sentia Spirits prefer to call it.
With new products like alcarelle in development, it will be interesting to see how the low and no alcohol category develops in the future. If look, taste and effect have been mastered, it will likely take some in-depth qualitative research to work on feel. Perhaps then, we could better explain why so many still desire ‘the burn’ or ‘harshness’ that only the real deal currently provides and how this can be replicated.