Mocktails shake up beverage industry with a craft makeover
Complex flavors, immersive consumer experiences and eye-catching presentation aim to elevate non-alcoholic drinks to give them a greater sense of occasion, comparable to drinking alcoholic cocktails. The desire for a memorable drinking experience is said to be the biggest driver behind the trend, as well as consumer interest in more complex flavors and healthier beverages.
Distill Ventures – backed by British liquor and spirits giant Diageo – is one company investing in the sector, and has provided $70 million of funding to 15 brands since 2013. Its investments include Seedlip, a non-alcoholic plant distillate intended to be used with mixers in a similar way to spirits.
As opposed to other on-trend non-alcoholic drinks like kombucha, drinking vinegars and craft sodas, there is an added focus on visual appeal and a sense of occasion attached to high-end mocktails. It’s a trend that manufacturers think is gaining traction, particularly among younger consumers.
Of course many millennials drink alcohol, but mocktails fit in a growing trend toward moderation and sobriety among this demographic. Emerging leisure activities include mindfulness retreats, “juice crawls” and “conscious clubbing,” with participants enjoying the energy and community of dance parties without drugs or alcohol.
Meanwhile, many millennials do still enjoy going out for drinks with friends and colleagues, but want to have something that gives them a sense of celebration — even when they choose not to drink alcohol. Water and soda don’t provide that experience.
Apart from Seedlip, other manufacturers looking to cash in on the mocktail trend include Mocktails Beverages, sold with a working glass cocktail shaker, and all-natural range Mocked Up. However, much of the appeal of craft-style non-alcoholic drinks is experiential. Therefore it remains to be seen whether packaged beverage manufacturers can tap into this space to a significant degree, or whether the rise of mocktails is more about adding new talents to the bartender’s arsenal.