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Designing beer without the booze

When it comes to zero-alcohol drinks we’ve gone well beyond the lemon-lime-bitters. Consumers want to enjoy their favourite alcoholic beverages without the alcohol. Beer, wine, spirits, cocktails, all booze-free.

The global market for alcohol beer alone is expected to reach GBP£28.2 billion by 2030. We’ve seen booze-free bars (see Sainsbury’s great pub) and popups across the globe, from London to Melbourne and Liverpool to Sydney. The zero-alcohol movement is just getting started.

But how do you design for brands where the new product is also the exact opposite of what it used to be? Alcohol, without alcohol.

Well, there are a few design approaches we’ve spotted in non-alc beer. Crack open a cold one and let’s dive in.

Premium education

In a market now flooded with craft zero and low-alc options, it’s easy to forget that premium, big-name brands were on the scene first. And branding had a big role to play in bringing consumers on-side with a new way to beer.

0% alcohol beers needed a big education piece with cut-through. Design-wise, that meant focusing on making that 0% big and bold, and attaching it clearly to the master brand. A new thing becomes normal, familiar and backed by that brand recognition.

The message being: this big name is now bringing a 0% beer to the table for traditional beer-lovers, and it’s all a-ok.

Photo by Adam Wilson on Unsplash

Crafty contenders

Once the major players were established, it was time for disruption.

Founded in 2016, Lucky Saint wanted to change the perception of what an alcohol-free beer could be. Taking inspiration from the story of Pilsen residents revolting against the traditional dark beer, Lucky Saint wanted to change the narrative surrounding alcohol-free beers. 

The idea was simple; create a refreshing lager without the alcohol and reward those who weren’t drinking with the beer they deserved. Almost 200 years after the original Pilsner was created, Lucky Saint created an unfiltered, fresh, citrusy and hazy alcohol-free beer like none before it.

“I’ve always found the best part of drinking wasn’t the alcohol itself - it was sitting in a pub with friends, relaxing with a beer on the sofa or sipping a cold beer at a BBQ” says founder, Luke Boase.

Six years on and Lucky Saint has fans up and down the country who have bought into the brand's ethos. A younger consumer who doesn’t want to miss out on the social aspect of drinking now won’t thanks to Lucky Saint. The honest approach to its messaging, packaging, and its story ensure that it speaks to an audience who may have felt forgotten. Available in bottle, can and on draught, it’s safe to say that Lucky Saint is well on its way to revolutionising alcohol-free lager.

Designed to fit in...

When craft breweries released their own zero alc options, they were designed to fit seamlessly within the core range. Brands such as BrewDog, Beavertown, Birmingham Brewing Company, Infinite Session Alcohol, Lucky Saint, Tiny Rebel and many more  designed tinnies and bottles to fit into the standard line-up of products. You couldn’t pick the zero-alc out by look alone.

A new product was just an extension of the brand that had evolved to meet demand.

What did consumers see? That loyal fans of a brewery could still reach for the beer they love and trust the quality and flavour would meet their expectations. Just the next chapter of the same craft brewery story (and boy do they love a story.)

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

…or to stand out

Across the globe, an Aboriginal-owned family company on the Gold Coast of Australia, SOBAH resonates with consumers for very different reasons.

For one, the whole beer range taps into foodie trends with ethically sourced native Australian ingredients like finger lime, pepperberry, and wattleseed. SOBAH also carved out their place with a strong ethical standpoint around sobriety, promoting First Nations creators and supporting the wellbeing of Indigenous communities.

And there’s a solid consumer base that clearly thinks this is pretty compelling in their shopping choices.

So sure, you can grab a can of SOBAH for the unique flavours, but you might also pick a tinnie for the ethics, the social impact or the support of First Nations artists. Pick to be a part of it, or because it represents part of you.

It’s designed to grab attention and win hearts and minds – then taste buds.

So, what does the future of non-alcoholic beers look like? One word: exciting.

With well-thought-out marketing campaigns, eye-catching packaging and a change in attitude surrounding drinking - low and no alcohol beers are becoming a fan favourite across the globe. As bigger players start to get involved, more activations begin to pop up and the feeling of being smug rather than hungover kicks in, it’s safe to say that these beers are anything but boring. Fancy a cold one?


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