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In the U.S. the share of Gen Zers born between 1997 and 2002 who say they plan to drink less alcohol in 2024 jumped 53 % year over year. Sixty-one percent say they plan to cut back on their alcohol consumption, compared to 40 % who said they planned to drink less in 2023.

The findings are from the latest consumer sentiment survey about the sober curious movement, a follow-up to a similar survey conducted in January 2023. Both surveys were commissioned by NCSolutions (NCS). The findings also include an analysis of NCS’ proprietary consumer purchase data. NCS is the leading company for improving advertising effectiveness for the consumer packaged goods (CPG) ecosystem.

More millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) said they’d drink less in 2024 (49 %), an increase of 26 % from those surveyed a year before. Overall, 41 % of all Americans plan to drink less in 2024, up from 34 % the year before. Together, these findings indicate the sober curious movement gained strength over the last year, largely due to interest from younger generations.

“Nonalcoholic alternatives, once a niche category, are becoming more mainstream,” said Alan Miles, chief executive officer, NCSolutions. “Younger consumers are increasingly expressing a growing interest in healthier options for social drinking. Beverage brands have a real opportunity to engage and build brand loyalty with the next generation of consumers by focusing on the right combination of creative, product, placement and timing.”

Tap into Gen Z with sober curious lifestyle messages

Younger consumers say saving money and improving physical health are the top reasons they switch to a sober lifestyle. More than one-third (36 %) of Gen Z say they’re going alcohol-free for their mental health.

This impacts the type of advertising most likely to influence purchases: over one-third of Gen Zers (34 %) say they’re more likely to try a new beverage product if it’s aligned with the sober curious lifestyle, compared to 17 % of all Americans. The finding adds further nuance to the marketing preferences of Gen Z, who are known to have an affinity for brands whose missions align with their values.

Nearly half (45 %) of Gen Zers say social media is the most effective advertising channel to help them learn about new nonalcoholic beverage options, followed by internet searches (16 %) and streaming TV (15 %). In addition, nearly one in four (24 %) have tried a nonalcoholic beverage because a celebrity or influencer endorsed it.

Mocktails are twice as popular as nonalcoholic beer

Sober curious consumers surveyed are twice as likely to choose a mocktail than a nonalcoholic beer. One in five (19 %) Americans said they drank a mocktail in 2023, compared to one in 10 who drank nonalcoholic beer. More than one-third (37 %) said they drank mocktails most often.

Mocktails were especially popular among younger generations in 2023. Thirty-seven percent of Gen Z said they drank mocktails last year, compared to 16 % who said they had nonalcoholic beer and 10 % who said they drank nonalcoholic wine.

Among millennials, 30 % said they drank mocktails in 2023, compared to 15 % who drank nonalcoholic beer and 9 % who had nonalcoholic wine.

Seventeen percent of both millennials and Gen Z said they had tried THC and CBD-infused drinks in 2023.

December leads for nonalcoholic beverage sales

Interest in Dry and Damp January continues to expand. Consumers purchased the least amount of alcoholic beverages in January 2023 (down 24 % from December 2022) and August 2023 (down 10 % from July 2023), according to NCS purchase data. This follows a 19 % drop in January 2022 compared to December 2021.

December was the most popular month of the year to buy alcohol in 2023, followed by May and March. Month-over-month purchases of alcohol in December increased 16 % over November. This increase was two times higher than the 8 % month-over-month increase in December 2022 and rose 8 % in May, compared to April. By contrast, in 2022, the summer and winter holidays saw the highest increase in purchases of alcoholic beverages.

“Alcohol consumption is traditionally seasonal. Consumers purchase significantly more during December in preparation for the holidays,” Miles said. “In the past, we’ve seen alcohol sales rise during summer months, but now the peak is as early as May. Beverage brands have the opportunity to leverage the sober curious trend beyond January and into the summer months, targeting younger consumers with new summer-focused nonalcoholic products and health-oriented creative.”

More than four in ten consumers have increased their purchases of functional foods, beverages and supplements since the start of the pandemic, a major global survey has found.

Kerry, the makers of clinically proven immune health ingredient Wellmune®, surveyed 13,000 people across 16 countries to provide manufacturers with insights into the impact of COVID-19 on purchasing behaviours.

Forty-four per cent of respondents globally said they had bought more dietary supplements since the outbreak of the pandemic, while 42 % had increased their purchases of functional or fortified foods and beverages.

Respondents were presented with a list of health areas and asked which were reasons for buying healthy lifestyle products. Globally nearly six in ten (58 %) chose immune system support, significantly more than the numbers who picked healthy bones and joints (46 %), digestive health (43 %), heart health (40 %) and improved energy (39 %). Immune health was the top health benefit sought by consumers in each of the 16 countries surveyed.

As many as 39 % of consumers had used an immune health product over the past six months and a further 30 % would consider doing so in future, suggesting a total potential immune health market of 69 %.

John Quilter, Kerry VP of Global Portfolio – ProActive Health, said: “Interest in health and wellness has never been higher and we wanted to give the industry new insights into changing purchasing habits. One of our key findings was the scale of the impact of the pandemic on demand – not just for immune health products, but for functional foods, beverages, and supplements overall. Consumers were adopting increasingly proactive, holistic attitudes to health, wellness and nutrition long before 2020 but the pandemic has massively accelerated this trend.”

The survey also reveals the food and beverage categories where immune health is a particularly powerful purchase driver. One in three (33 %) consumers said they would be interested in purchasing fruit and vegetable juices if they contained ingredients that promoted immune support. Many other categories were also seen as a good fit for immune health benefits, including spoonable yogurt (31 %), dairy-based drinks (28 %) and hot beverages (24 %).

Pure Piraña, developed with all-natural flavours, enters Mexican & New Zealand markets

HEINEKEN is exploring the Hard Seltzer category with the launch of Pure Piraña in Mexico and New Zealand. It will be available in a choice of up to nine different flavours, enabling HEINEKEN to test local preferences and investigate the potential of a rapidly growing category, whilst also exploring additional market introductions into this category.

Pure Piraña demonstrates HEINEKEN’s commitment to crafting new taste profiles in line with consumers’ ever- changing demands. Containing fewer than 100 calories per 330 ml can and made with all-natural flavours, the new beverage is aimed at a modern generation of consumers who are increasingly conscious of their consumption habits and lifestyle choices.

Jan Derck van Karnebeek, Chief Commercial Officer at HEINEKEN said: “Innovation is embedded in everything we do at HEINEKEN, which is why we continuously use our expertise to create new and exciting taste experiences for consumers. We are seeing more and more people look for a low-calorie alcoholic alternative and the result is the rapid growth of the Hard Seltzer category. The launch of Pure Piraña offers a way for us to meet customers’
evolving needs and explore a new growth opportunity for our business.”

Pure Piraña is a refreshing mix of carbonated pure mineral water, a dash of natural fruit flavours and contains 5 % alcohol. The result is a Hard Seltzer that is low in carbs, low in sugar, low in calories and is also vegan-friendly. Pure Piraña will initially launch in Mexico, one of HEINEKEN’s largest markets, in Grapefruit, Peach and Red Fruit flavours, and in Raspberry and Lime in New Zealand.

Pure Piraña joins HEINEKEN’s portfolio of more than 300 global and local brands.

Many of today’s busy consumers are juggling their careers, families and social lives while striving to maintain healthy lifestyles, both physically and mentally. Food and diet plays an essential role in this, with innovation increasingly looking to support consumer choices as many endeavor to balance the benefits and costs of these hectic lifestyles. This, in turn, raises the demand for nutritious foods that are easy to prepare, convenient and portable, while indulgent treats also play a role in relaxation and enjoyment.

The Right Bite was one of Innova Market Insights Top Trends for 2020 , reflecting how food and drinks supporting lifestyle choices can fall into a number of areas. These all aim to help those wishing to embrace healthy lifestyles, balance busy schedules and/or reject their current lifestyles and search for change.

Consumers embracing a healthy lifestyle tend to love having many things do and are dedicated (working long hours, exercising, etc.), but need to plan their time efficiently to get the best benefits. Healthy snacks, energy-boosting food/drinks and on-the-go food and beverages are all of interest, with high protein and energy claims of particular significance. According to Innova Market Insights data, global snacking launches featuring high protein claims had a CAGR of 16.8 % between 2015 and 2019, while the use of energy/alertness claims rose 13.7 % over the same period.

Those seeking healthier lifestyles also looked to find a balance between health and indulgence, while also looking for individual needs and preferences to be met, including the development of more balanced and complete concepts in terms of their nutritional needs.

Balancing busy lifestyles is necessary as consumers live life to the full (holidays, dining out etc.) and benefit from this, but feel that it also takes a toll on them, with ‘fast’ lifestyles also necessitating compromise and rebalancing. Convenience is key in this area, prompting a demand for meals that are easy to prepare and cook, which in turn provides opportunities for ready meals and meal kits. The demand for home cooked food has boosted interest in meal kits, with 28 % growth in the number of launches tracked globally by Innova Market Insights (CAGR 2015-2019).

On the other hand, consumers looking for a change in lifestyle are likely to increasingly distract and distance themselves from their busy lives and try to wind down. Emotional comfort is key here, with interest in comforting, relaxing and sleep-inducing food and drinks, particularly carrying mood, energy and sleep improving claims.

Stress and anxiety are key concerns in modern life as awareness of their negative impact on mental and physical health grows. In a 2019 Innova Consumer Survey 32 % of UK consumers and 39 % of US consumers claimed to experience stress at least once a day, rising to over half in India. The industry response has included more products targeted at improving low mood, tiredness and fatigue and sleep.

There has been a 14 % average annual growth in food and beverage launches with a snacking claim (Global, CAGR 2014 – 2018), according to Innova Market Insights. For most consumers, snacking is a part of daily life and always has been. What is changing is the way people think about snacking and what is considered to be a snack.

“Fundamental changes in eating patterns largely driven by increasingly busy lifestyles mean that the traditional pattern of three meals a day has been giving way over some years to a less formal eating pattern,” says Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights. “This is shifting to a more fragmented and flexible eating style, encompassing multiple small meals or snacks, often eaten alone or on the go,” she adds.

This rise in the so-called “fourth meal” culture has increased demand for quick and convenient yet healthy solutions for busy consumers. This is creating opportunities for wholesome, satisfying and sustaining snacks to fulfill the role of mini meals and play a more meaningful role in contributing to refueling and nutritional needs throughout the day.

Healthy snacking choices are seeing the fastest growth rates for NPD overall, with nutritious options gaining ground. This is led by vegetable-based snacks, with an increasingly high profile for on-trend ingredients such as more unusual nuts, ancient grains, hummus, avocado, seaweed, hemp and baobab, for example. On the go and lighter options such as miniatures, bites and puffs are also increasingly in evidence, as is the search for the right balance between health and indulgence.

There are also regional differences in preferred snack types, with Innova Market Insights consumer research indicating that nuts & seeds, chocolate and yogurt/drinking yogurt are the top three choices in the US, for example, while chocolate leads from potato-based snacks and sweet biscuits/cookies in the UK.

“As traditional meal times and occasions disintegrate and people seek quick, convenient, yet healthy solutions for busy lifestyles,” Williams notes. “We are continuing to move away from the traditional three-meals-a-day norm,” she concludes.

SternLife offers a new range for ketogenic nutrition

In all discussions of a well-balanced diet and weight reduction, the buzzword has been “low-carb” for many years. But there are now other forms of nutrition, too, that advocate a diet with as little carbohydrate as possible. One example that is becoming more and more popular is ketogenic nutrition. This diet consists of 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein and only five percent carbohydrate. It brings about in changes in energy metabolism. Because of the reduced carbohydrates, there is no longer enough glucose available as a supply of energy. Consequently, the body forms more ketone bodies out of the fatty acids present, and these provide the energy necessary for the brain. During this ketogenic state – also known as ketosis – the body’s own fat deposits are broken down. That is why the keto diet helps with slimming.

In the USA, keto is already in third place among the nutritional trends. That is the conclusion drawn from the latest “What’s Trending in Nutrition” survey, in which some 2,000 dieticians were interviewed. Lifestyle products that support ketogenic nutrition therefore offer additional sales potential. For keto diets are becoming increasingly popular in the German market, too, and are being recommended by more and more dieticians. In this connection, MCT oils play an important role. According to scientific studies, these medium-chain fatty acids promote both weight loss and reduction of the body’s fat mass. In other words: MCT oils greatly help to ensure the success of a ketogenic diet. SternLife’s new keto products are also based on MCT derived from high-quality coconut oil.

Three attractive products are available that enable manufacturers of branded goods to make profitable use of the keto trend. Ketoproof Coffee and Ketoproof Matcha Latte, for example, promise a perfect start to the day. The dry beverage bases for blending with liquid contain 5g MCT and less than one gram of carbohydrate per portion, but they also contain a large proportion of dietary fibre. The caffeine derived from coffee or matcha powder gives the drinks their stimulating effect. They are therefore ideal for breakfast or for fighting that afternoon sleepiness. The new Keto Protein Shake with 9g MCT and less than one gram of sugar per portion completes the range. With its high percentage of valuable, quality protein and large amount of dietary fibre it provides a satisfying meal for fitness and figure conscious consumers. With the novel products from SternLife, suppliers of fitness and lifestyle products can extend their offer with a trendy range and benefit from the growing keto trend.