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Jun 25, 2019 / Richard Hall

Naming the trend – NOLO ?

The trend is clear. The name is not.

The trend is towards adult taste drinks with less or no alcohol. It’s there in:

• spirits, from 30% alcohol by volume sugar-free Smirnoff Infusions to distilled non-alcoholic Seedlip

• wines, from 9-10% alcohol by volume Barefoot Refresh to organic non-alcoholic Zéra

• beers, from 0.5% alcohol by volume BrewDog Nanny State to alcohol free Heineken 0.0. It’s also growing in soft drinks, such as:

• mixers from Fever-Tree to Coca-Cola Signature

• cordials from Bottlegreen to Robinsons Fruit Creations • carbonates from Purdey’s multivitamin juice drink to South Africa’s The Duchess non-alcoholic gin and tonic

• plus kombucha and so much more. So, what should the category be called ? Is it

• Alcohol-free ?

• Zero alcohol ?

• Zero proof ?

• Non-alcoholic drinks ?

• Adult drinks ?

• Adult soft drinks ?

• Craft soft drinks ?

• Low and no alcohol ?

These names all represent different aspects, with different limitations. How about NOLO ? It’s terrible, but it might work. It’s short and embraces the full spectrum. I’d be interested in other views.

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  1. Hamish Clarke / Jun 25 2019

    The term No and Low was one commonly used in alcohol to describe and adjacent growth category that didn’t capture much interest. Now, that term if I’m not mistaken has been trade marked by Diageo. It’s been used as the activation platform for the ontrade. This year 13 countries simultaneously had alc free bars in all of the worlds top cities serving, you guessed it, seedlip.

    Soft drinks, under pressure from transparency and inter alia sugar are also faced with a rate of change which is creating the “adult soft drink”. Somas these two new emerging categories begin to emerge as consumers discover when, how and what they drink I believe this lack of understanding may persist.

    Retailers too are really battling to understand how the shelves need to change or indeed how to manage the shopper need, new brands and where to place them.

  2. Tim Coles / Jun 25 2019

    There is clearly a great deal going on in this “space” – however one tries to define it neatly. All sorts of consumers, for all sorts of reasons, are looking to cut out, cut down or avoid alcohol. This has been the case for quite some time, but it is now a very visible trend which is just going to build and build. Agile innovative start-ups such as Pimento in France and Seedlip in the UK identified this opportunity from different angles a fair time ago and there is now a veritable flood of brands from more start-ups and increasingly from large branded producers.
    What to call this trend/wave/new category is difficult – not least because relevant legal definitions in the UK, the EU and the Rest of the World are different and lead to massive confusion. “Alcohol-Free” can be claimed on products made in the UK which contain up to 0.05% alcohol by volume. In the EU the threshold for this claim is 0.5%. As the UK is still part of the EU we can currently import and sell products with this claim.
    For the purist of course alcohol-free implies there is no alcohol at all. There are plenty of products which appear to be 0.0% abv (but which, in the small print of the back label might have up to 0.05% abv). The law of course is an ass – there is a certain level of alcohol in an overripe banana, but no-one worries about that or devising any labelling regulations for that.
    For me “alcohol-free” is always going to be problematic. Logically “No” could be equally problematic and the parameters for “Low” will ultimately be enshrined in some regulations that might not be agreed universally.
    We ourselves have come to a clearly defined segment of this enormous opportunity with our brand THE ZERO OPTION – we sell a wide range of drinks with an abv of less than 1%. We sell direct to consumers and also to the trade. On our website one can find beers, ciders, wines, spirits and distillates and some really distinctive “grown-up” soft drinks – all of which have an abv which starts with a 0!

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