Don’t call it a buzz kill.
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Some of the largest beer companies in America are promoting “Dry January,” the annual challenge refraining from alcohol for an entire month in an attempt to detox from overindulging during the holiday months.
Heineken rolled out what it calls its January Dry Packs, similar to an advent calendar, that feature 31 cans of its non-alcoholic Heineken 0.0, which debuted at the beginning of 2019. Consumers are meant to crack open a can of the booze-free beer every day for a month. Each beer contains 69 calories (a can of Heineken contains 150). The packs will be free to fans available in cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C., while supplies last.
The non-alcoholic beer category has been associated with a negative stigma of being the odd one out at a party for not drinking socially, but that's changing, Jonnie Cahill, chief marketing officer for Heineken USA said, as demand for non-alcoholic beverages surges among consumers who want to live healthier lifestyles, and have the option to drink a quality product without consuming alcohol.
“We heard time and time again from people that if you’re in a bar having soda somehow you feel slightly disconnected from the group, Cahill said. "We’re trying to bring the combination of world-class beer to what is a continually growing segment in the U.S. We think it could be 5 to 10 percent of the mother brand.”
Heineken’s non-alcoholic beer segment grew by nearly 10 percent in the first half of 2019. And overall sales of non-alcoholic beer is expected to reach more than $25 billion by 2024, according to research from Global Market Insights. And because of declining beer sales, a number of alcohol giants continue to pursue the category.
Anheuser-Busch InBev launched Budweiser 0.0 in India in August marketing to consumers who don’t drink. Eight percent of the company’s global beer volumes came from no and low alcohol beverages, AB InBev said in its 2018 annual report. And Italian brand Peroni (owned by Asahi) made its first foray into the non-alcoholic beer segment with Peroni Libera 0.0% in the United Kingdom last January.
More recently, New York-based Brooklyn Brewery rolled out its first non-alcoholic beer, Brooklyn Special Effects, nationwide in October. The brewery citied the 52 percent of beer drinkers aiming to reduce their alcohol consumption and living a healthier lifestyle as a motive to create the non-alcoholic beer described as a hoppy lager-style.
More Americans will likely be refraining from alcohol this month. Eighty-three percent of Americans who participated in Dry January last year said they'd participate again in 2020, according to Nielsen data. And it could promote a number of health benefits. A study from the University of Sussex found that Dry January instilled healthier drinking habits for future months, promoted weight loss and better sleep.