Sober and still social? For many there's nothing new about non-alcoholic drinks demand.
A lot has been written about the mindful drinking movement in the last year and while it's great that more people are prioritising their health by drinking less alcohol, I've noticed that one particular group in the teetotal segment doesn't get many columns inches : teetotal Muslim professionals. If we’re talking about the consumer value of the non-alcoholic drinks space, Muslim professionals have long been searching for solutions to invest their time and disposable income in. So it’s odd that this doesn’t come up that often in the recent buzz around the no/low alcohol drinks industry.
While mindful drinking doesn't only apply to people who abstain from alcohol for religious reasons; the growth of adult, alcohol-free beverage options in social settings will be a huge boon to the Muslim teetotal professionals across the UK (and arguably the world.) And yes, the focus on professionals, as opposed to teetotal British Muslims in general, is intentional.
'Thirsty Thursdays' should be fun for everyone.
We've all been there: a work-do, networking event, "team bonding", a client event, Christmas party, summer party, ANY party. You're teetotal professional who wants to be involved because you are, after all, one of the team and you like to have fun too; but when offered a beverage - your options are water, sugary soda and juice or at best a "mocktail" which essentially has enough sugar syrup in it to jump-start you on the path to Type 2 Diabetes.
Some may say it’s not a big deal. The lines “just drink water” or “why do you need to drink anything at all” will be familiar to many. The point isn’t that these situations are impossible to solve for. The point is that, when consumers are spoiled for choice in almost every arena of life and purchasing environments - why do the choices suddenly fall flat for people looking to not drink alcohol? Why not create delicious, non-alcoholic options for people who are abstaining? Why are teetotal consumers deemed less important, when it’s actually a substantial and growing consumer base?
Optics matter in relationships
Let’s not forget the social implications of being visibly teetotal. For professionals who don't want to consume alcohol, the options have historically been dire and when you choose to forgo any of these poor options you're walking around with the 'dead hand' feeling; answering the "how come you're not drinking anything?" every twenty minutes or so. While the intent behind the question is harmless, it means you are unnecessarily pulled into a rather personal conversation in a professional environment.
I know it sounds like a first world problem but the truth is, workplaces in the UK - particularly in London - have a pretty substantial drinking culture and when you don't consume alcohol, you can experience an added barrier to relationship building opportunities which mainly take place in work-social situations involving drinking.
The truth is that most people just want to come along, not feel excluded while they're there, but also not draw extra attention to their decision to not drink alcohol. You’re an adult. You're likely tired of the “order a lime & tonic and pretend it’s a G&T so no one bothers you” work-do trick. So the growth of mindful drinking allows teetotal professionals, including British Muslims, to benefit too - making professional social experiences more inclusive and catering to their needs. There's so many things to balance in a work-social environment, what you're drinking, or not drinking, shouldn't be one of them.
The no & low alcohol market in the UK represents a £116 million chunk of the industry and in the last 12 months alone this has grown £22 million. Muslims make up roughly 4% of the UK population and while not everyone abstains - just imagine how much faster this market size would grow if more attention was paid to the needs of specific consumer groups like this one. Beyond religious abstention, there’s many reasons people aren’t drinking: pregnancy, other health reasons like liver functions, mental health and of course safety - that ever present joy for female professionals.
Where can you find great options for alcohol free or no/low ABV beverages?
Events like the Mindful Drinking Festival, in 2020 at the Truman Brewery on January 18 & 19, demonstrates that the market is finally paying attention to the demands of alcohol-free consumers. 47 brands, including ours, attended to showcase a variety of delicious alcohol-free or alcohol-alternative drinks ranges. If you’re in a position to advocate for better non alcohol drinks in your work place social events, know that there’s probably many people who would appreciate someone taking the step.
P.S. If your company buys drinks for the team - let me know. I’d love to chat about getting our Botanical Cold Brew Tea stocked in your fridge too.