The alcoholic drinking space is changing and changing rapidly. Key cultural shifts that are influencing many 18-35 year-olds today are having a great impact on the social drinking scene. This poses the question, “Should, and can alcohol businesses be about more than just booze?”. With excerpts from a recent research group with 18-25 year-olds, we consider opportunities presented by our changing social world.
I party at home therefore I am
Our homes have always been a reflection of our style, and now more than ever we want to create social experiences within our homes that reflect our individuality. Similarly, austerity means that young people are staying in more but don’t want to compromise on creating a sense of occasion. As a result, brands need to consider how new products, packaging formats and structures can help create these experiences. Home Brew kits, loved by aficionados are one end of the spectrum but there is a great opportunity for more immediate products to create theatre and occasion in the home.
The rise of generation Abstemious
People are enjoying moderation, healthy hedonism and generally drinking less than previous generations. It is not new news that brands need to focus on attributes of quality over quantity, lower / no alcohol content and innovative ingredient combinations. Our group commented: “We want to savour the moment and feel as though we are experiencing something unique and exciting, almost secret”. And flavour is a complex space as “combinations need to offer a richer experience opposed to just doing something ‘new’. Similarly, “health conscious drinkers don’t want flavour for flavours sake”. Simplicity is also key with raw, stripped back tastes and ingredients that feel ‘cleaner’ and more single-minded. Looking further ahead we can expect innovations around customising the perfect quantities for individual metabolisms and the balancing of individual nutritional needs.
The third space and “celebrating your society”
Whereas before, the bar, pub or club was where people found their tribe, we now have limitless options for unique spaces to socialise and ‘be’. A key theme to come out of our research group was people wishing to “celebrate our society through ‘doing more’ ”. In our busy and constant, pointless-information overload lives, we strive for meaning and learning and combine socialising with ‘seeing and doing’. There is a great opportunity for the alcohol space to think carefully about how they can partner with wider cultural influences and their role in different types of cultural spaces. This presents a constant need to re-think distribution in response to gallery spaces and exhibitions, theatres, pop-up gatherings, food markets and new upcoming places to socialise.
The future needs to be sustainable
For a good while, many alcohol brands have aligned and communicated more vocally around their sustainable innovations. Stella Artois have partnered with Water.org, Heineken work hard to reduce carbon footprint through cooling with innovations like David XL Green are just two examples of many. But we need to think big about how we can innovate through tackling waste products, water scarcity, and the use of sustainable ingredients. In the future, will vapours replace liquids? Will new virtual multi-sensorial stimulation take over with the rise of our virtual social selves?
The alcohol space has always had to innovate and the rapidity of change both environmentally and socially certainly won’t be slowing this down. In the future can we imagine seeing alcohol businesses becoming more aligned with fostering ‘communities’ and facilitating the positives of socialising in response to some of the destruction that alcohol can also be blamed for? Ultimately, will change mean that Alcohol businesses have to become less identified with the business of just selling alcohol altogether? Read more about the future of alcohol and the mediums taking its place on the social circuit in our upcoming edition of ABSOLEM coming soon!