Why millennials and Generation Z are helping lead the rise of non-alcoholic beverages

day 68:55Why millennials and Generation Z are helping lead the rise of non-alcoholic beverages

Lee-Anne Richardson says she is hearing from many young Canadians about cutting back on alcohol, drinking non-alcoholic beverages or choosing total sobriety.

The Dartmouth, NS resident is the founder of Sober Citya peer support group for people struggling with addiction.

Richardson feels that millennials and Generation Z are making more informed decisions about the negative effects of alcohol compared to previous generations, and are more open to having comprehensive conversations about their mental health.

I think young people see alcohol as a way to make anxiety worse, to make mental health problems worse.– Lee-Anne Richardson, founder of Sober City

“They’re like, I don’t want to go down that path, so I’ll abstain completely or cut back or things like that,” he said. “I think younger people see alcohol as a way to make anxiety worse, to make mental health problems worse.”

A headshot of Lee-Anne Richardson, founder of Nova Scotia peer support group Sober City and an advocate for mental health and addiction.
Lee-Anne Richardson has been sober for nine years. When she stopped drinking, she found it difficult to find places to go and things to do that didn’t involve alcohol, so she created a peer support group. (Lee Anne Richardson)

According to the World Health Organization of May 2022 alcohol reportharmful use can cause death and disability “relatively early in life” in people aged 20-39, with 13.5% of all deaths attributable to alcohol.

Soft drinks are helpful for some people who are sober or control their drinking, but not for everyone, Richardson says.

“It can be triggering because it tastes and smells and looks like the real thing, but overall, I think it’s a very, very good idea and it’s helping, especially young people, to stick with reduced drinking or full sobriety. .”

Gail Lynch, CEO of Zero Cocktail Bar in Toronto, says millennials and Generation Z aren’t drinking alcohol like their generation did in the 1960s and ’70s, because there’s less stigma around people who choose not to. to drink.

He also says that the zero-test market has grown to include a wide range of options.

“When I started doing this, I found maybe three products on the market,” he said. “Now there are over 200 on the Canadian market.”

A photo of Gail Lynch, CEO of Zero Cocktail Bar in Toronto, Ontario.
Gail Lynch believes soft drinks are here for the long haul due to increased market demand and acceptance by non-drinkers. (Some nice clean and fun blogs)

When asked about day 6 host Brent Bambury on what surprises customers most when they drink a mocktail for the first time, Lynch said people are surprised at how good it tastes.

“I wanted to satisfy my own need, ie can I make myself a drink? So I started doing some research and realized that I can probably do this. I started experimenting and researching. Then I invited some friends over to try those cocktails of zero proof and they loved them. I knew I had something I needed to bring to market,” Lynch said.

CLOCK | Is this the golden age of soft drinks? | About that

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Mitch Cobb is the CEO of Upstreet Craft Brewing in PEI, which now has its own non-alcoholic craft beer label called Libra.

Cobb says that after a couple of years of being in the beer business, he noticed that it had affected his health and decided to cut back.

That’s when, he said, he realized there weren’t many non-alcoholic drink options on the market. His brewery launched its first non-alcoholic product in 2020, and his non-alcoholic products are especially popular with younger customers.

“We really saw a demand within our staff and within our customer base – we saw a lot of trends, we talked about millennials and Generation Z,” Cobb said. “How they’re drinking less and really focusing more on their health and wellness. We really saw that we were right and there was a lot of potential there.”

A photo of Mitch Cobb holding a can of beer, sitting in a chair.  Cobb is co-founder of the non-alcoholic beer brand Libra and CEO of Upstreet Craft Brewing in PEI.
Mitch Cobb says he’s well aware of people who see the rise of non-alcoholic beverages as a trend, but believes it’s a sustainable movement, led by Gen Z and millennials. (Ryan Williams/Unbound Media)

Cobb believes that people of all ages are more informed about their health and wellness these days, but the difference with Generation Z and millennials is that they still want to go out and do the same things they used to do, minus the alcohol.

They still want the same social experiences, but they don’t want to wake up the next day and feel bad.– Mitch Cobb, CEO of Upstreet Craft Brewing

“They want to be able to go out and meet their friends. They want to be able to go out to dinner, but they don’t want to wake up the next day and feel bad.”

Cobb calls it a “big change from previous generations” and says people either used to drink or didn’t. If you didn’t drink, it was usually for health reasons, alcohol problems, or because you were pregnant.

“That has really changed. There’s not such a hard line in the arena,” he said.

It is a movement, not a trend.

With hundreds of products now on the market, Lynch says soft drinks are “absolutely” here to stay and there is no longer a stigma attached to sobriety or support programs like Alcoholics Anonymous.

“Suddenly you’re hearing words like ‘sober’ and ‘scratch proof.’ And maybe those words are helping to change people’s minds,” Lynch said.

She says some people are now getting through the pandemic feeling like they’ve been drinking too much and are looking for alternatives and supports.

“A person doesn’t have to be insane in terms of being an alcoholic. But a person could also be saying that the pressures of life are too much for me right now and maybe I’m using too much.” alcohol. Let me cut back and maybe there’s a healthier replacement.”

two cans of tonic with floral graphics sit next to a glass jar filled with the drink on a bar counter
The London Brewing Co-operative brews a ‘non-alcoholic drink’ in partnership with On the Move Organics, a London-based organic grocery delivery company. (Presented by London Brewing Co-operative)

Richardson doesn’t see the non-alcoholic beverage market going away because of what she calls the brand’s “Instagram-worthy” and “on point” aesthetic.

“I really think it’s here to stay because of how I’ve seen it grow over the last three years. It’s been steady growth,” he said.

She feels that restaurants and bars will have more zero-proof options on their menus each year, and that the younger generation will want zero-proof drinks for the long haul, preventing it from becoming a fad.

“With the rise of non-alcoholic products and more spaces that are sober-friendly, it’s helping, honestly, everyone. It’s even helping kids who are not yet of legal drinking age because they’re starting to pay attention to the older generations’ drinking habits,” Richardson said.

Cobb says he’s heard from many people in recent years calling it a trend, but he believes it’s becoming more of a movement, stemming from the craft beer industry and many of the same consumers.

“People, especially Gen Z and millennials, have grown up with this really interesting packaging around craft beer, these really innovative flavors. The non-alcoholic beer market builds on that and goes from there.”

It helps reduce the stigma of not drinking, Cobb says, and it helps people feel safe when they go out and share cans and flavors they’ve discovered with friends, she adds.

“Once people realize they can go out and still be able to socialize and do the things they want to do and not necessarily consume alcohol, then they won’t go back to consuming alcohol the way they used to before, especially with younger generations.” “.

Radio segment produced by Mickie Edwards.

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