Nonalcoholic beverages key part of upcoming market trends

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Various kinds of nonalcoholic cocktails are served at Low-Non-Bar in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.

With the rise of more sober-curious young people taking to an alcohol-free lifestyle, it has become obvious that the de-alcoholization of social activities will be a key factor in upcoming beverage market trends.

To meet this change, beverage companies, restaurants and bars are making efforts to provide nonalcoholic alternatives.

20s to 40s age bracket

At the Low-Non-Bar in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, colorful cocktails are being served to customers. The Kanda district bar is unique in that it offers about 40 types of cocktails, all of which can be served nonalcoholic.

Low-Non-Bar opened in July and mainly serves up nonalcoholic beverages. Hiroaki Takahashi, the manager of the bar, said that many of the customers are in their 20s to 40s.

“I don’t drink alcohol, but I am interested in bars because of their stylish image,” said a female company employee in her 20s who came to the bar with a friend from her school days. “It’s easy to enter if you can order nonalcoholic beverages.”

Drinking parties ‘unnecessary’

According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry’s 2019 national health and nutrition survey, about 30% of people in their 20s said they don’t drink much.

Gatherings centered on drinking alcohol, also known as “nominication” — a mashup of nomi (drink) and communication — were considered to be settings that bring people closer together, whether they be from the workplace or business partners.

However, in a survey conducted with about 7,800 people by Nippon Life Insurance Co. in October, 61.9% responded that workplace drinking parties were “unnecessary” or “somewhat unnecessary.”

People also have become more health-conscious and many want to avoid the potential health risks associated with alcohol. It is becoming increasingly common for people to think that alcohol should be consumed only when they want to.

More than just ‘mocktails’

There has been a growing number of related products and services that are trying to capture this nonalcoholic beverage trend.

From April this year, Il Teatro, an Italian restaurant at Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo in Bunkyo Ward, has offered nonalcoholic wines carefully selected by a sommelier to match its course meals.

In June, Mercian Corp. launched its nonalcoholic sangria, Mock Bar, which uses the flavor of spices as a secret ingredient and is being well received.

Suntory Beer Ltd. estimates that the volume of shipments of nonalcoholic beverages in 2020 increased 3% from the previous year, the sixth consecutive year of growth since 2015. The market is expected to continue to expand.

“In order to increase profits, it will be essential to offer products with higher added value,” said Naoko Kuga, a senior researcher at NLI Research Institute.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Various kinds of nonalcoholic cocktails are served at Low-Non-Bar in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.