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Non-Alcoholic Beverages Are Hot!

In my class and my textbook, I largely refrain from using examples from the marketing of alcoholic beverages. I do not want to appear to be endorsing the use of alcohol. But I do believe that social norms can positively influence our students–and if they learn that many others do not drink alcohol, they may be less likely to binge drink themselves. My colleague Kathleen Kelly did a lot of research in this area. That means that we might learn a lot about marketing and have a positive influence on our students by exploring the rapid growth of the non-alcoholic beverages market.

A recent article published in Inc., “The Real Action in Adult Beverages Is in Faux Booze,” gives you an opportunity to explore this topic with your students. With the help of ChatGPT, I provide a brief summary of the article, some suggested marketing topics, and finally some potential discussion questions for you to use with your students.

For a really interesting case study, check out “The Hottest Beer in America Doesn’t Have Alcohol,” The Wall Street Journal (February 3, 3024). The article describes the rise of Athletic Brewing. A crazy idea in 2017; although the founder’s marketing research pointed up, few believed it would work. Athletic is now a huge success story in the otherwise stagnant craft brewing industry.

Summary: The article discusses the rising trend in non-alcoholic adult beverages, highlighting various entrepreneurs who have entered this growing market. These individuals, coming from diverse backgrounds, have created alternatives to traditional alcoholic drinks, like non-alcoholic gin, whiskey, and wine. The non-alcoholic beverage market, including beer, has seen significant growth, attracting interest from large companies like Diageo. The sector is also influenced by sociological trends and health-conscious consumers, particularly among younger generations.

Relevant Marketing Topics:

  1. Product Innovation (Chapter 9): Creating non-alcoholic alternatives to meet changing consumer preferences.
  2. Target Market Analysis (Chapter 4): Understanding the demographics and preferences of health-conscious and sober-curious consumers.
  3. Brand Positioning (Chapter 4): Differentiating non-alcoholic beverages in a market dominated by alcoholic options.
  4. Consumer Behavior: (Chapter 5) Exploring the reasons behind the shift towards non-alcoholic beverages.
  5. Promotion Strategy (Chapters 13, 15 and 16): Developing strategies to promote and distribute these new products in both traditional and digital channels.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does product innovation in non-alcoholic beverages reflect changing consumer preferences? (Chapters 3 and 9)
    • Answer: It shows a shift towards health-consciousness and a desire for inclusive social experiences without alcohol, meeting the needs of sober-curious consumers.
  2. What challenges do companies face when positioning non-alcoholic beverages in a market dominated by alcohol? (Chapter 4)
    • Answer: They must overcome stereotypes about non-alcoholic drinks, establish credibility, and create a desirable brand image that appeals to both non-drinkers and traditional consumers.
  3. Why is understanding the target market crucial for the success of non-alcoholic beverages? Chapters 4 and 5)
    • Answer: It enables companies to tailor their products and marketing strategies to the specific needs, preferences, and lifestyles of their audience, such as health-conscious or younger generations.
  4. How do sociological trends like ‘Dry January’ and ‘Sober October’ impact the non-alcoholic beverage market? (Chapters 3 and 5)
    • Answer: These trends raise awareness about the benefits of reducing alcohol consumption, creating a growing market for non-alcoholic beverages and changing social norms around drinking.
  5. What role does digital marketing play in promoting non-alcoholic beverages? (Chapter 16)
    • Answer: Digital marketing allows brands to reach a wider, more diverse audience, leveraging social media and influencer partnerships to build brand awareness and appeal to younger consumers.
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