Heineken, the world-famous Dutch brewer of their namesake beer is placing their latest bet on a gap in the Australian alcohol free beverage market. Their iconic green labeled bottles are about to turn blue, signifying a shift in consumers’ new demand for drinks that taste like traditional alcoholic beverages, but without the buzz they can easily provide.
There are several reasons why the alcohol free market is growing on a worldwide scale. And we are starting to see other unique ways entrepreneurs and existing companies are taking advantage of this trend to offer people something different.
The brewers behind “Heineken 0.0” used an entirely different recipe formulation than their classic premium lager that most drinkers are familiar with. They could have opted for an approach of simply using a process to remove the alcohol.
However, that didn’t produce the results in flavor and taste that met their high standards. Heineken 0.0 has a smooth balance of soft malt flavor with hints of fruit that give it that refreshing burst that drinkers especially desire on hot days. Aware that health-conscious consumers will be a significant segment of their consumers, Heineken is proud to promote that each bottle contains just 69 calories per bottle.
It seems a little surprising that Australia wasn’t considered a bit sooner on this new product launch. Heineken 0.0 was taken to market in 2017 and already has a presence in 38 countries, with more being added continually. This move makes sense, especially for the Heineken brand. They already have credibility with the kind of people who enjoy good beer, but might opt for an alcohol free drink if they have to drive or for other personal reasons related to health, wellness, and sobriety.
Millennials, the sought-after demographic of young consumers, represents another reason why alcohol free is a smart bet for traditional brewers. The younger drinking-age generation is drinking less than their parents did, and are less likely to pursue the alcohol-infused lifestyle of their predecessors. Many Millennials do not desire to get drunk, many of them simply want to live healthier lifestyles and they see sobriety as a higher form of consciousness and wellness. It would not be surprising to see more craft breweries produce smaller label alcohol free options that span lagers, ales, porters, and ciders. It will be interesting to see if the alcohol free market matches or exceeds the market for gluten-free beers that started growing in recent years.
Entrepreneurs with an interest in beverage companies should pay attention to the recent trend of alcohol free bars and popup style events that encourage socializing without the buzz. A husband-and-wife team recently opened Vena’s Fizz House, an alcohol free bar in Portland, Maine. This vision of a high-end style bar serves seltzer-based drinks that contained bitters, syrups, and other additives that drinkers have loved for centuries. When they opened Vena’s Fizz House, it was instantly a hit. Their customers praised how they offered a place where they could enjoy a drink without the negative side effects of alcohol. If this trend continues, brands like Heineken will have a whole other channel of wholesale customers for their 0.0 brand.
Heineken has high expectations for this new product in the Australian market. It would be wise for other large brewers to pay attention and start researching methods for creating non-alcoholic products that align with the preferences of this growing demographic. That a company like Heineken is willing to invest so much in an entirely new category their brand should signal to others that the alcohol free trend is real. What’s more, it fits perfectly with the direction the entire food industry has been heading for years. Consumers are constantly seeking new ways to improve their health while making socially conscious decisions. Reducing alcohol intake is part of the overall trend toward healthier living – while still having some fun and indulgence along the way.