It’s estimated that almost one in three (31%) Australian consumers now buy no-alcohol products, according to recent data from global market research firm, IWSR, with volumes of no-alcohol beer/cider, wines, spirits and RTDs increasing by 60% in 2022.

This is a trend that has been accelerating since 2019 when non-alcoholic spirits brand, Lyre’s Spirits entered the market with a vision ‘to change how the world drinks’.

The business was founded on the concept of recreating the major spirits in a non-alcoholic format, making them as close and true to taste as the original using cutting-edge food science.

“We were seeing changes in alcohol consumption patterns with consumption per capita dropping and certain demographics – including one in four young adults – not drinking at all,” Lyre’s Spirits co-founder, Carl Hartmann told Retailbiz.

“Increasingly, people are becoming more health conscious and non-alcoholic drinks are gaining popularity in line with other consumer packaged goods (CPG) categories such as plant-based dairy and meats.”

The most interesting part – 90% of Lyre’s Spirits customers do drink alcohol and they choose Lyre’s to moderate their intake, while reducing the number of calories.

“For example, a traditional Negroni recipe calls for gin, vermouth and Campari, which has a lot of calories and sugar. If you were to keep the gin because it has the least calories and swap out the vermouth and Campari for Lyre’s, you would be drinking a lower alcohol and lower calorie version. On average, our spirits reduce the number of calories by 60% to 70% compared to the original,” Hartmann said.

Lyre’s is seeing huge demand for low alcohol alternatives and not just no alcohol, allowing the brand to coexist with traditional spirits and enable more growth in the overall category.

“(Other co-founder) Mark and I started the business because we like alcohol and drink alcohol, but we don’t want to consume it all the time and there’s just so many different use cases for it. Fundamentally, it’s about moderation and giving people the freedom to choose.

“We’re in Dry July at the moment and there’s a huge percentage of the population who now abstains from alcohol for a month, whether it’s Dry January or Sober October – there’s various periods throughout the year.”

Recognising that alcohol is embedded into Australian culture and people often ostracise others for not drinking, Lyre’s makes it possible for a drink to look, feel and smell the same as the original.

“We’re the only brand in the world that can be used interchangeably on a one-for-one basis with alcohol because we’ve got the taste and ratios right, while other spirits brands use adjacent flavours and new botanicals.”

In line with Australia’s above trend performance in the non-alcoholic spirits category, the USA, UK and Europe are the best performing markets for Lyre’s. Within Europe, despite smaller populations, Ireland, the Baltics and Switzerland perform well on a per capita basis.

“In the regions that enjoy an outdoors lifestyle, the market will typically outperform the baseline because being outdoors is often associated with a greater desire to be mindful and healthy,” Hartmann said.

Due to complexities associated with selling internationally such as liquid and label compliance, Lyre’s sells online in around 30 markets.

“Spirits are not like clothing that can be shipped anywhere with little complication. We partnered with ShipStation to streamline and better execute our shipping operations as there are a lot of rules based on specific SKUs and where they can and can’t be sold, so we can route orders accordingly. We also wanted to ensure tracking and other customer service elements were well integrated to deliver a great customer experience.”

Having been part of the Amazon Launchpad program, designed to help new and emerging brands accelerate growth and scale, Lyre’s is one of few brands that Amazon has taken to markets around the world.

“Amazon has helped us set up and navigate selling on marketplaces in a category that’s new and different for the platform. It’s been great to have their support on our journey. Amazon has dominant market share in the US and UK in particular and is seen as the default platform to look for and purchase products so you need to be a part of that.

“It’s pleasing to see the stigma of not drinking alcohol dropping. It’s also interesting when you look at our data post-Covid that when corporate functions offer premium non-alcoholic options, it’s typically 40% to 50% of what people consume. This is a similar trend we’re seeing at big life events such as weddings where a portion of people are unable to drink because they’re pregnant or breastfeeding,” Hartmann said.

Lyre’s Spirits is the official spirit partner of Dry July to fundraise for people affected by cancer and show the benefits from a month off alcohol. “We are humbled to support the Dry July Foundation. It’s a great cause that we want people to get behind.”

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