The alcohol industry is in perpetual pursuit of diversification and new markets – innovating beverages from vegan beer to alcohol free liquor – while keeping an eye on how the legal cannabis market might steal its juice
However in the quest for new markets, brands advertising on Snapchat are in dangerous territory given the app’s popularity with children
And while increased labelling is good when it improves transparency on ingredients, it’s controversial when it steps too close to branding and endorsing misogynist behaviour
For insight to the alcoholic beverages sector, our risk intelligence platform analysed the digital conversations over the last 6 months. Nearly 100,000 digital media postings were identified, comprised of 40% online media (news, blogs), and 60% social media (Twitter, Facebook).
ONLINE MEDIA (e.g. mainstream news, blogs)
1.Cut out the booze – How much alcohol is in your glass?
The world’s first alcohol-free liquor-flavoured beverages are now available for people who can’t drink due to medical reasons or religious beliefs. ArKay Beverages are Kosher as well as Halal conformed, or permissible under Islamic law, which forbids the use of alcohol. But ArKay might have some competition. Top-mentioned brand, Budweiser also ranked in the discussion with its alcohol-free Prohibition Brew.
2. Nanny state – new innovations and regulations to cut alcoholism
For those who want the taste and buzz of alcohol without the hangover or calories, a British scientist has developed a new synthetic alcohol. Although touted as a way of reducing alcoholism and related disease, the drinks industry is sceptical. In another attempt to reduce alcoholism, Scotland is trying a new way to price alcohol by the unit, specifically 50 pence (about 72 cents) for 10 millilitres of pure alcohol, although opponents argue that the law penalizes those who drink responsibly and in moderation. Meanwhile, in South Korea, health warnings on alcohol bottles have changed for the first time in 21 years to raise awareness on the health risks of excessive drinking. Previously, alcohol labels only stated alcohol content and a general warning that drinking is harmful to health.
3. Good Health – Beer & Vodka enter the speciality diet market
To meet consumer demand for transparency, the four leading beer conglomerates have developed standardized nutrition labels for beer. The labels will provide information on calories, carbohydrates, and ingredients, as well as freshness dates. But for many consumers, what’s not in the bottle is just as important. For those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease, the choice of gluten-free ales and lagers is steadily increasing as more breweries learn how to craft quality beers sans the wheat. For those who avoid animal-based products, Vegan craft beer is finding a growing market. Vegans can now avoid beers that have been filtered with ingredients such as dairy, fish bladders, gelatin, or egg whites. In spirits, Bellion is targeting health conscious millennials with a new category of ‘Functional Spirits.’ The company’s first product, Bellion Vodka, is infused with NTX, a proprietary blend of FDA-approved ingredients, including licorice root extract. The company feels so strongly about the benefits of NTX that it has filed the first ever health claim petition with the TTB.
4. Underage drinking: Snapchat advertising is dangerous business
Brands such as MillerCoors, Beam Suntory, Diageo and Bacardi Limited are among the companies now advertising on Snapchat, a potentially risky move due to the app’s younger, and in some cases underage, audience. South African Breweries (SAB) runs an outreach programme called You Decide, a series of interactive initiatives aimed at helping teens avoid underage drinking. The programme has compiled a checklist of warning signs for preventing underage drinking. In Kenya, underage drinking is being blamed on too much pocket money, social class status and poor parental guidance. Peer pressure, stress and entertainment were also cited for aggravating the problem.
5. Backlash against sexist labels
In Alaska, a craft brew brand has been accused of promoting rape culture. Panty Peeler Beer is a Belgian tripel made with coriander and orange peel. It previously made the list of “13 most sexist names and labels in craft beer.”
6. Cannabis Cocktails
The US Election on 8-Nov saw four more states make recreational marijuana legal. In the lead up to the election, cannabis legalisation was often discussed in regard to its presumed negative impact on liquor industry profits. But not all industry players view legal weed as a threat. Constellation Brands is considering cannabis-infused cocktails as a way to liven up its product line. However, pot is still illegal under US federal law, which will likely keep large players on the side-lines for the time being.
Polecat’s digital listening platform tracks opportunities and risks for businesses and organisations, including the alcoholic beverage industry. Polecat harnesses the power of big data to help global entities keep up with new developments in a fast-changing world.