Australia is seeing a change in their alcohol norm. Especially young people are increasingly realizing the harm caused by the products and practices of the alcohol industry. They are reflecting more on their choices and becoming increasingly sober curious.
The central theme of sober curiosity is to be mindful. Big Alcohol and consumerism is driving higher, mindless consumption of products which are harmful to people’s bodies and minds, the environment and society in general. But sober curiosity helps to question the role alcohol plays in people’s lives. Instead of simply conforming to the pervasive alcohol norm, the sober curious movement seeks to replace thus harmful norm with more inclusive, healthier and happier social norms.
Millennials and Generation Z are largely driving the western world’s sober curiosity. Millennials are consuming less and less alcohol, while Generation Z is the least alcohol consuming generation in human history.
The sober curious movement in Australia is gaining ever more visibility, for instance through market demand for low- and no-alcohol beverages.
- Global drinks market analysis firm IWSR found that the low- and no-alcohol (NOLO) segment in Australia grew 2.9% in 2021, with alcohol sales declining by 1.4%.
- It forecasts that until 2024, NOLO will grow by 16% and become one of the fastest growing segments in the market.
Even during the pandemic the sober curious movement is thriving. According to Nielsen, sales of non-alcoholic beer increased by 38% in the first six months of 2020. Instead of halting the growth, the pandemic and resulting lockdowns have been a time for people to discover being alcohol-free even more.
For Australia, which is affected by a heavy burden of alcohol harm, the sober curious movement is good news. The new sober generation is undoing the pervasive alcohol norm, and thus promotes better health and well-being for more people.
Not only in Australia, the sober curious movement has been spreading across the western world, with similar alcohol norms, such as the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and other European countries.
Michael Livingston, an associate professor at the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University, is part of a team who is seeking to understand today’s sober curious generation. Growing health awareness about risks of alcohol is one reason for rising interest in alcohol-free choices. Another reason is that social lives today often takes place on social media. And people do not want to be perceived as losing control of themselves on social media.
Certainly social media has brought the sober curious movement into the spotlight. An increasing number of celebrities and popular influencers are choosing the alcohol-free way of life and sharing their journey online. This has brought sober curiosity into the mainstream.
For example, Australian influencer Olivia Rogers has shared her journey online. She decided to live alcohol-free after realizing alcohol use did not go hand in hand with her healthy, active lifestyle, which she showcases on her social media.
I realised that it wasn’t helping my intentions to be healthy, to be the best version of myself, and for my mental health, that I was doing something that was so detrimental,” said Olivia Rogers, Australian influencer, as per Business Insider.
Olivia Rogers, Australian influencer
Alcohol-free drinks a growing market category
Even major Big Alcohol companies have had to keep up with the new sober curious movement. The world’s largest beer producer, AB InBev, expects sales of no- and low-alcoholic beer to represent 20% of sales by 2025, triple its current share.
Meanwhile smaller companies and craft breweries are also innovating to keep up. Bridge Road Brewers in Victoria, Australia began with craft beer in 2005 and launched no alcohol beer in 2020.
Banks Botanicals, a no-alcohol gin brand was founded in 2020. Their research showed that almost 65% of Australian consumers said they were interested in no- or low-alcohol brands. And almost 70% want to either decrease or maintain lower alcohol consumption.
Another brand is Melbourne-based alcohol-free wine company NON. As Movendi International reported previously, alcohol-free wine is one of the fastest growing markets in Australia.
There are more and more newer, more sophisticated NOLO brands entering the market each year. And these products and companies are not the only trend. Sober bars are becoming a popular business model across the world. These bars offer inclusive options for everyone to have fun, be healthy and meet friends in healthy environments.
What these NOLO brands and spaces offer is a choice for people to try reducing their alcohol use or going completely alcohol-free.