Millennials are sometimes referred to as “generation sober” because of their non-drinking culture while Gen Z reportedly drinks even less. Read more about the 2023 wellness trend, sobriety.
People are drinking less than we used to. Axios.com reports that the number of Americans who said in a Gallup poll that they drink is down from 65% in 2019 to 60% in 2022. And the share of college students who abstain from alcohol jumped from 20% to 28% between 2002 and 2018. While these might not seem like huge percentage shifts, they represent big numbers of people. And while much of the reporting on the “sober curious” movement focuses on North America, reports suggest it is also happening in Europe.
According to Sarasota Magazine, the sobriety, or “sober curious,” fad started in 2014 with a challenge called “Dry January,” trademarked by the UK charity Alcohol Concern. You’ve surely heard about this challenge, sometimes stylized as “drynuary,” in which participants take a month-long break from alcohol.
Since then, sobriety has gained further traction, partly in response to the opposite fad of people turning to alcohol as a coping mechanism during the height of the pandemic years. This makes sense, as movements or trends often grow out of a response to other, existing trends. In this case, a younger generation is saying no to booze and yes to sobriety. Millennials, now aged around 26 to 41, are sometimes referred to as “generation sober” because of their non-drinking culture. And Gen Z, aged approximately 10-25, reportedly drinks even less. The fact that the youngest of them is 10 years old suggests this research should be taken with a grain of salt, as this generation has yet to experience the stresses and difficulties of life that often lead to a glass of wine or a cocktail after work. Still, there is ample evidence that something sober is happening.
Dame Magazine reports that mocktail bars, and nonalcoholic wine and beverage stores are opening in cities around the world, “placing big bets on shifting attitudes toward booze.” Some have attributed the growing sobriety movement to a greater wellness movement, and it’s also been noted that young people are choosing cannabis and psychedelics over booze, which is in keeping with the other wellness trends we’ve noted over the years.
Celebrities are hopping on the bandwagon. Pop star Katy Perry recently teamed with Morgan McLachlan, master distiller and founder of AMASS Dry Gin (an alcoholic gin) to launch De Soi, a range of non-alcoholic aperitifs made with natural adaptogens. Blake Lively launched a line of non-alcoholic sparkling mixers, Betty Buzz, which can be enjoyed on their own or mixed with alcohol. And supermodel Bella Hadid co-founded a non-alcoholic, botanical-infused seltzer brand, Kin Euphorics, with reported claims that the drinks “enhance focus and creativity” and inspire “good vibes.”
Is hospitality behind the times?
The hospitality industry, however, has not been as quick to follow suit. And some people are saying they’re tired of seeing a lack of non-alcoholic options on drinks menus. Body + Soul Australia recently asked the question, “Why is the hospitality industry so far behind the sober trend?” musing that maybe, “bars and restaurants largely missed the memo on this movement.”
Though they could just be biding their time to see if the trend continues before investing in changes.
Annette Lacey, the group beverage manager of Solotel, a company which owns 26 hospitality venues across Sydney and Brisbane, told the outlet that, while the restaurant group offers approximately 100 non-alcoholic beer, wine, cider and spirit options, in the last calendar year the non-alcoholic category was responsible for just 0.6 per cent of total beverage spend, not including soft drinks, water or juice. She did say, however, that she expects this number to grow exponentially, and pointed to the swift uptake of the trend.
Hospitality, including hotels and resorts, would probably benefit from keeping an eye on the sober curious movement.
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