Low and no: How brands can adapt

There’s a huge trend in the drinks world right now: people are drinking less - and brands are investing and innovating to serve this market, Dan Hooper, co-founder at YesMore explores.

However, there’s another side to this trend, and one that is likely to have a negative impact for many drinks producers: if ‘low and no’ is where it’s at, what does this mean for the ‘short and strong’?

Let’s be clear - we aren’t talking about cocktails, or stronger drinks to be sipped and savoured. This is about the change in a specific occasion of drinking - single serves and shots, often consumed for the sake of getting drunk, rather than any additional pleasure. No one has ever gone for a quiet Jagerbomb or two with the idea of staying sober and the rituals of drinking and nights out are shifting. This means the shot culture is likely to decline, with figures already suggesting a 2.1% decrease in volume sales shotted in 2018.

So if occasion is king, we can see why this spells trouble for brands like Jagermeister, Apple Sourz, Goldschlager, Aftershock and more. Other drinks that are occasionally consumed in this way may also feel an impact such as tequila, sambuca and schnapps. As responsible drinking messaging rises rightly to the fore, brands need to consider how they are perceived and marketed, and move away from these occasions.

Cocktails offer a more considered market strategy. If your brand can be mixed and evolve into a more rounded drinking experience, then this is an option. This will be more successful for some brands than others, but one that all should consider. In some cases, this may also involve some brand repositioning work.

Heritage is another area brands could focus on. If a drink can be enjoyed as a complex, pleasurable product to be savoured like whisky, then brands need to work to convey this message and brand history. 

Considering how drinks are positioned in other countries is also key. Though a different drinking occasion, the idea of the early evening aperitivo has been successfully marketed in Britain by brands such as Aperol and new vermouth brands. Even Jaegermeister, with its history dating back to 1934 was started as a digestif herbal liqueur.

Younger consumers are also changing how they experience a night out; with event venues around darts, ping pong, golf and more becoming increasingly popular. In these places, there’s something other to do that sit and drink which is also changing the occasion dynamic. If your brand can find a way to become part of that occasion, then this could offer some way to preserve share.

There will still be a market for these short drinks, but the next few years is likely to see it decline. Brands need to act now to ensure they position and protect their products through this change.