Image courtesy of Agathe Marty
Two words strike fear into the heart of any party-loving individual – Dry January. But after a couple of festive weeks of solid drinking, taking a break to recharge for the year ahead has never been more popular. It’s also never been easier, thanks to the growing lo-no drinks market.
However, as more consumers enter the category, demand for new flavours and improved experiences has also increased. That represents a big opportunity for manufacturers to enter the market, or innovate within existing ranges, particularly in Europe where the market is less developed than the US.
How to capitalise on this opportunity is one of the key learnings from the launch of a new webinar series by lo-no specialists Givaudan. Starting – aptly – in Dry January, it will reveal invaluable insight into the lo-no sector and offer learnings for anyone in, or looking to enter, the still emerging space.
Givaudan’s expertise in the lo-no arena is holistic, encompassing every aspect of the lo-no market. “We have teams of people looking into many different aspects of the market, including local experts, so we have a deep understanding of consumer trends and the kinds of beverage experiences they are looking for,” says Marta Kusnierz, Givaudan’s marketing manager in Europe. “We take all of it into account when we’re developing new technologies or new offerings.”
Taste and technique
The webinars will delve into four lo-no sub-categories, devoting one episode to each.
The first episode, on 18 January 2023, looks at lo-no beer. Compared to other types of lo-no drinks, beer is relatively well represented and established among consumers. Almost 70% of the beer drinkers questioned for the webinars had tried a non-alcoholic beer, so consumer uptake can be seen as a positive. But only 33% were satisfied with the taste, which indicates flaws with existing ranges and suggests opportunities to bring something new and innovative to the market. This episode will focus on how Givaudan believes manufacturers can do exactly that, highlighting several innovative examples it has produced, guided by its consumer insight. Like its Choco Special concept, a dark non-alcoholic beer which serves as a perfect example of innovative flavours.
“Chocolate is the number one flavour we see as the best fit for dark beer,” says Joop de Wolf, Givaudan’s senior beverage application technologist for Europe. He also says it chimes with the relaxing experience occasion, one of the three key occasions identified by consumers as a good time for mindful drinking, alongside connecting and socialising.
The second episode, on 25 January 2023, will focus on wine. Anyone familiar with attempts to deliver a successful lo-no wine will know that the process remains ongoing. Wine represents a big challenge in lo-no, but it’s also an area that promises vast rewards for anyone who can get the technique, taste and presentation right, then deliver at scale.
The webinar will address technical challenges and reveal solutions, and discuss consumer insight and expectations around lo-no wine. Dorieke de Wind, an expert on wine and Givaudan’s flavourist from the Innovation Beverage Team in Europe, says in the last two years, eight out of ten wine consumers have reduced, or intend to reduce, their alcohol consumption, but only 27% were satisfied with existing lo-no offerings.
During the webinar she will explain how to take that 27% to 100%, while Joop de Wolf will take viewers through the three steps producers need to take to create “something unique and delicious” in the world of lo-no wine. Creative Grapes, Givaudan’s lo-no wine team, has developed an innovative method of producing lo-no wine, and this episode will reveal technical insight into how it produces a bottle of alcohol-free wine that scores on flavour and taste, but also retains that vital but elusive ‘body’ that alcohol typically brings to a bottle.
Mix it up
One category that has been well-established for decades is the mixer category, but as mixers have become an increasingly premium category in terms of quality ingredients and price points, Givaudan’s consumer insight suggests it’s ripe for freshening up, and the third episode on the mixer category promises insight on how new directions and varieties of flavour will be key to growth. Vanessa Robert, senior flavourist innovation beverage Team Europe, said working with external mixologists was “amazing, and seeing their creations come to life in our creation facilities was a unique experience”.
The final episode will focus on Hard Seltzers, and many within the industry will be familiar with the category. European consumers, however, are not. This webinar will demonstrate how to break into this effectively new European category, based on insights into consumer taste preferences, including regional and localised expectations, and predictions on how the untapped market could grow. And the popularity of Hard Seltzers in the US suggests huge opportunity for the European Hard Seltzer market.
“When I started to deep-dive into consumer opinions and perceptions about Hard Seltzers I was surprised that consumers didn’t know about their existence,” says Anne-Marie Wisse, consumer and market insight project manager for Europe.
“Before conducting a consumer study I always ask my friends and family, so I asked if they had ever heard about Hard Seltzers to get a first impression. Most of them hadn’t heard of them at all, for some it rang a bell, but they still didn’t know exactly what they were. I thought this was perhaps due to their ages as most were not Gen Z, and hard seltzers are typically targeted at younger generations. Or because I am Dutch, maybe they aren’t that popular in the Netherlands yet.”
She then conducted research across four European countries among different age groups and says the results were “quite in line with my first impressions. Some 90% of respondents haven’t consumed Hard Seltzers, meaning just one in ten consumers have.”
Kusnierz says the research demonstrated a lot of interest in the concept, across all age groups, with 63% of those who had never heard of a Hard Seltzer saying they would be interested in trying them. It also reveals insight to help brands and manufacturers understand where Hard Seltzers fit best, and the right combination of flavour and taste experiences.
“The category is almost not existing, so the potential for our customers is to build it,” she adds. “That’s always a challenge, but it can also bring major success, because it’s not about adding another flavour to your already vast portfolio. We are building a totally new category and new beverage experiences.”
The drive for innovation in a relatively mature lo-no beer market, and developing the other categories to where lo-no beer is at and potentially beyond, is why Kusnierz says “we don’t call lo-no a trend anymore, we call it a revolution. The message to our customers is to be prepared for a time when consumers are going to ask for something beyond lo-no beer. We are analysing future potential consumers, those who are slowly coming into having buying power, and they are consuming less and less alcohol. They are different to the previous generation, so we will absolutely see more and more lo-no products. Sales of lo-no may never match sales of alcohol, that is probably true. But they are very important.”
That importance is reflected in the broad spectrum of insight and technical knowledge the webinars will offer, promising deep insight into consumer desires, as well as data on production, sales and markets. The series will go deep into the untapped potential of the lo-no category as a whole, but also tease out the opportunities for growth in the sub-categories, and how to create great beverage experiences. Click on the dates and topics of the webinars below to find out everything you need to know.
18 January 2023 | 14:00-15:00 CET | Virtual | Free
25 January 2023 | 14:00-15:00 CET | Virtual | Free
01 February 2023 | 14:00-15:00 CET | Virtual | Free
08 February 2023 | 14:00-15:00 CET | Virtual | Free