Sales of alcohol-free beverages were already growing rapidly in Australia, but lockdown and the annual Dry July month has given them an extra boost.

Drinks retailers Dan Murphy’s and BWS recently reported that sales in the non-alcoholic category increased 103% over the last twelve months. As well as spikes at Christmas and July, there was also a noticeable uptick in March when the country went into lockdown, Business Insider reported.

While alcohol-free beer has been the fastest growing segment, the advent of new alcohol-free spirits brands has added interest to the category. Sydney-based Lyre’s, for example, recently signed a major deal to be stocked at Dan Murphy’s.

“This is a time when the sober-curious are seeking new non-alcoholic options, and this is happening in all corners of the country,” said co-founder and CEO Mark Livings at the time.

His partner Carl Hartmann explained to CMO that the COVID-19 crisis has attracted customers looking for a healthier lifestyle while in lockdown.

“There were two groups of people emerging through lockdown,” he said. “Group A tended to day-drink from 8.00am and may or not be currently employed, and group B, who said this was a health crisis, so they would ramp up their exercise and be mindful of their alcohol consumption and get quarantine fit.”

And it’s the latter group that has been turning to non-alcoholic spirits. But search data has shown they’re often looking for drinks recipes rather than brands, an understanding that has informed Lyre’s marketing approach.

“We set out to ‘win’ the internet,” Hartmann said. “With the Lyre’s range we can make the vast majority of the major cocktail SKUs. So we just wanted to be the product they discovered first.”

At the same time, the brand has offered a range of instructional videos; and in a recent initiative anyone who buys the product gets a 15-minute Zoom masterclass with a Lyre’s brand ambassador.

“We are teaching people who have never made a cocktail before how to make a cocktail, and that is becoming enormously popular,” Hartmann reported.

Dry(ish) July has also boosted the alcohol-free category but this year, given the exceptional circumstances, participants are invited to sign up for 14 or 31 days without alcohol instead of the usual 31.

Sourced from Business Insider, CMO; additional content by WARC staff