by Matt Towe

How to make your Dry January offering exciting

How to make your Dry January offering exciting

As Dry January is fast approaching, we sat down with Matt Towe, Head of Unity Wines, Beers and Spirits, to give you a roundup on the best ways to make your offering exciting for the occasion!

Has Dry January grown in popularity? Why?

Dry January has become a huge trend now, and with a lot of consumers carrying the over indulging guilt from Christmas, it is important to still cater for them! Many will cut alcohol out in January but that doesn’t mean they won’t be out in trade still looking for an alternative.

It is also important think about no and low as a category past January; 32% of UK adults have limited/reduced their alcohol intake in the last 12 months, so for many this is becoming a lifestyle change and not just a trend for January.1

What are the difficulties for operators during dry Jan?

Getting the range right! The no and low category is worth a staggering £250m now2 and there has been an explosion of brands, mainly driven by the big Beers and Cider suppliers, but tailoring your range to your clientele is key.

If you sell a lot of beer normally, then having your customers’ favourite brand as a no and low option is crucial.

What are some good ways to make the no/ low alcohol drinks offering stand out?

SIGNPOST! Make it very visible to consumers as they journey through the venue as to what is on offer.

Very typically, those choosing not to drink alcohol will default to a soft drink, which is fine – make sure this range has enough variety to make thinks more exciting to consumers, but having the right amount of no and low alcohol options is equally important. It should not feel like a disadvantage to have a no/low alcohol or soft drink.

There are huge amounts of back bar displays, menu toppers, posters, coasters that the suppliers offer, ensure your staff are trained up and familiar with the range as it develops and if you have use of big screens around your venues then utilise this to make your offering clear and obvious.

Do you have any advice on no/low cocktail recipes?

The Cocktail market is absolutely booming and whilst we haven’t seen a huge synergy to with the low and no market here, we are seeing growth in Spritzers, Radlers and Shandies so having “lower” alcohol and normally calorie options is a good place to start.

What’s the best way to showcase what’s new and trending on your Dry January menu?

Consumers want change, but too much change can be damaging at the same time.  Introducing changes to your menu, whether it is food or drink, can be a daunting experience – after all, if isn’t broke  then don’t fix it right?

There is some truth to that, but you still need to create interest and excitement – rotational schemes are always a good way to do this. Have your big selling cocktails/drinks but then mix it up with a cocktail/mocktail of the week or a wine of the month?

How important  is specifying between no and low alcohol items on the menu?

This is key – and make sure your menus make this clear and your staff fully understand, I have seen too many occasions where a full strength lager has been offered when a consumer has requested no/low.

Remember, to classify as alcohol free the product has to be less than 0.05% whereas low alcohol beer is 1.2% and below.

How can you premiumise non-alcoholic drinks so a consumer can justify high spend?

I would say it is more important not to exclude. Only 15% of the no and low consumers are looking to abstain alcohol completely whilst a whopping 39% are substituters and want something that makes them feel they have the same offering without the alcohol – get this right and you are on your way to understanding the category and offering the best.3

What are the future trends for non-alcoholic drinks?

Well there is certainly no signs of it slowing down, as an industry we now simply need to keep up with the brands and the offering. The UK on-trade loses a staggering £800m per year due to lack of non-alcoholic options as a trade up from water.4 So get your range right and make sure your consumers are aware.

What are your favourite low / no alcohol options from our range?

Oooh that’s a tough one, there are so many good ones out there these days and versus 10 years ago when the offering (especially on beer) was very bleak, brand owners have worked tirelessly to tweak and improve their liquids to give us, “the consumers”, the very best. My advice is go out there and explore the category!

There you have it, expert advice on how best to tap into Dry January and make your offering more exciting!

Explore our full range here.

Read more about Unity wines and spirits here: Unity | Own Brand – Bidfood

Thirsty for more? Check out some of our previous blogs:

1 Mintel: Attitude towards low alcohol report 2022 NielsenIQ Healthy Trends Thought Leadership MAT TY we 24.04.21

2 Mintel: Attitude towards low alcohol report 2022 NielsenIQ Healthy Trends Thought Leadership MAT TY we 24.04.21

3 IWSR Study Jan 2023 Source: Nielsen Homescan WE 11.09.22

4 Noughty EPOS National Grocerr A




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