Citing health concerns and a desire to develop responsible drinking habits, consumers in Europe are raising more glasses filled with low or no alcohol beer, according to findings from Mintel.
As health and wellness trends influence alcohol consumption more and more, consumers are being drawn towards moderate beer options and the stigma of drinking low or no alcohol beer is being challenged.
There’s growth potential globally, as well. China is the most prolific global innovator of low or no alcohol beer product launches. The Middle East and Africa may also be a hotbed for low/no alcohol beer product launch activity in the coming years.
New research from Mintel reveals that over a quarter of consumers in France (28%) and Germany (27%) agree that low or no alcohol beer tastes just as good as full-strength beer. Those most likely to see the merits of low/no alcohol beer are younger consumers. As many as 37% of French consumers aged 18-24 and 31% of German consumers of the same age agree that low or no alcohol beer tastes just as good as ‘regular’ beer (4-6% ABV).
While many consumers seem to enjoy the taste of the drink, the stigma of drinking non-alcoholic beer may also be disappearing. Research highlights that just one in 10 (9%) German consumers say they would be embarrassed to be seen drinking low or no alcohol beer, followed by 14% of consumers in France, according to Mintel.
“As health and wellness trends influence alcohol consumption more and more, consumers are being drawn towards moderate beer options and the stigma of drinking low or no alcohol beer is being challenged,” says Jonny Forsyth, Global Food & Drink Analyst at Mintel.
Seeking healthier options
Looking to the future, the global beer market will see even more moderate innovation as Millennials in particular seek healthier and less calorific beer options. This goes hand in hand with a number of brands working to raise the quality of the product, especially non-alcoholic beers, Forsyth says.
Germany in particular is now making high quality non-alcoholic beers and, as a result, non-alcoholic beer has now become a mainstream option. German beer drinkers may not have a history of moderation, but this is changing, he adds.
What’s more, this Oktoberfest it seems many will be opting for a low or no alcohol beer in order to forgo the hangover. Among German consumers, over half (53%) agree there is “less chance of getting a hangover if you drink low or no alcohol beer, rather than full strength (4-6% ABV)”. This rises to 6 in 10 French (61%) consumers, states Mintel.
Staying in control
But it’s not just the hangover that consumers are keen to steer clear of; over half of consumers in France (56%) agree that low or no alcohol beer allows you to stay in control when drinking. While in the U.K., responsible drinking is high on the agenda for half (51%) of Millennials who say they are careful not to exceed the recommended weekly units of alcohol when drinking beer.
“Control has become a key watchword for today’s younger drinkers,” Forsyth explains. “Unlike previous cohorts, they have their nights out documented visually on social media where it is likely to remain for the rest of their lives. Over-drinking is therefore something many seek to avoid.”
Across Europe, 33% of Spanish, 23% of German, 11% of UK and 9% of French consumers drink non-alcoholic beer, according to Mintel.
However, while European interest is high, China is the most prolific global innovator of low or no alcohol beer product launches, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD). Over one in four (29%) beers launched in China in 2016 contained low or no alcohol, compared with around one in 10 beers launched in Spain (12%), Germany (11%), Poland (9%) and the UK (7%). Falling behind in terms of launch activity, just 6% of beers launched in France in 2016 were low or no alcohol, compared to a global average of 8%, states Mintel.
“The amount of global lower alcohol beer innovation remains very limited, despite plenty of activity in Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East and Africa,” Forsyth says “While China leads in low and no alcohol beer innovation, Mintel research indicates that Chinese consumers, in general, prefer less strong beer in terms of ABV, compared to the global market.”
Furthermore, when it comes to future product innovation it seems the majority of consumers have full faith in tried and trusted brands to produce a tasty low/no alcohol beer. According to Mintel research, over half of German consumers (56%) say they would trust their favorite brand to produce a good tasting low or no alcohol version, with half of consumers in Spain (50%) agreeing with this statement.
“Our European consumer research confirms the importance of brand trust in helping consumers to overcome the significant taste barrier,” Forsyth says.
The success of non-alcoholic beer innovation in Germany offers other lessons for what can work elsewhere. German non-alcoholic beer producers have vastly improved production techniques, resulting in the fact that over half of German non-alcoholic beer drinkers think that non-alcoholic beer tastes as good as a standard alcoholic beer, he adds.
Finally, Mintel research highlights that the Middle East and Africa may be a hotbed for low/no alcohol beer product launch activity in the coming years. According to Mintel GNPD, almost a third (30%) of beer launches in the Middle East and Africa contained low or no alcohol in 2016, up from 22% in 2015, according to Mintel.
“There is a strong case for further non alcoholic beer growth potential in the Middle Eastern and Asian markets, especially those with a big Muslim population, such as Indonesia,” Forsyth explains.