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No Alcohol? Low Alcohol? Are Your Customers Going NOLO?
Anyone who still regards the pub as their local ‘boozer’ may be surprised to hear that nearly a third of visits to pub are actually alcohol-free. Among many different reasons for this, one of them is that more and more of us are choosing to go NOLO.
What is NOLO?
NOLO is something a catch-all term covering the fast-growing no-or-low-alcohol sector of the hospitality industry.
It’s not quite as straightforward as it sounds though, Indeed, concerns have been expressed that consumers are still confused about true alcohol content. To help quantify what differing terms mean, the Department of Health has come up with the following suggested descriptions, also covering drinks where any alcohol has been extracted:
- Low-alcohol – not more than 1.2% ABV (alcohol by volume) content
- De-alcoholised – not more than 0.5% ABV content
- Alcohol-free – not more than 0.05% ABV content
- Non-alcoholic – no alcohol content; also should not be used with names already widely regarded as being alcohol drinks – beer, rum, gin etc.
What’s new about NOLO alcohol?
It is not a completely new phenomenon. Coca-Cola itself came about in the late 19th Century when Colonel John Pemberton removed the alcohol from his ‘coca wine nerve tonic’.
Years before that, when water was unclean and milk too expensive, it was cheaper for people to hydrate themselves with a weakened ale (albeit still with up to 2.8% ABV content). This was widely consumed, even amongst children. Thankfully drinking water is safe to drink nowadays, though the expression ‘small beer’ remains, going right back to Shakespeare’s time.
What’s different today is that NOLO has become a category in its own right. The manufacturers claim to have greatly improved taste and choice, using botanicals and other ingredients to simulate the taste of real alcohol.
There’s even an entire exhibition devoted to NOLO in London each September. Low 2 No Bev describes itself as ‘the must-attend event for anyone who sources and buys low and no-alcohol beverages across retail, hospitality, convenience and the on/off licensed trade. ‘
Why the growth?
Aside from improved taste and choice, it seems that much of the growth is being driven by young people aged 18-34. Perhaps for them the health messaging over the past decade or so is beginning to sink in – or maybe being drunk or out of control is not a look they want on their social media.
Amongst the public in general there will always be those who choose not to drink, be it for teetotal or other reasons, most notably driving, work and pregnancy.
Many pubs, bars and restaurants are increasing their ranges of NOLO drinks to keep up with the demand. For the licensing trade, it’s an opportunity to expand their offer beyond simple fruit juices, fizzy drinks and water – by adding something more profitable.
Leading NOLO manufacturers are increasing their advertising spend, and providing more front-of-house promotional support to stockists. As a leading supplier of barware, Envibe is seeing this growth first hand, through more requests for bespoke branded glassware, cocktail sundries and other drinks accessories.