Non-alcoholic (NA) wines, beers, and spirits are nothing new; non-alcoholic beer in particular has been produced for over a century. However, production innovation and the proliferation of wellness and moderation trends have catapulted the small category into the mainstream in recent years. In fact, according to off-premise data collected by Nielsen IQ, a whopping 94 percent of alcoholic beverage consumers are also purchasers of NA alternatives. 

“Each time we do more research in the space we see more and more consumers aware of and interested in trying non-alcoholic products across categories,” says Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights. “While the growth has been very strong in the past year, these categories remain a really small piece of the total sales on Drizly, so there is certainly lots of room for continued growth.” 

On Drizly, the NA category experienced a 62 percent increase in 2023 over 2022, making it among the fastest-growing subcategories across the marketplace. While the category remains small overall, accounting for just .42 percent of total share, the rapid growth of NA alternatives is worth noting.

“Even if you drink alcohol, there’s a time and place for a really good non-alcoholic beer,” says Samantha Itzkovitz of Brooklyn Brewery, which has offered its non-alcoholic line, Special Effects, for several years. “We realized there was so much stigma surrounding non-alcoholic beers and beverages in the United States, especially surrounding taste, which led us to release a craft alcohol-free beer.” 

According to Nielsen, NA sales for the 52-week period ending August 23, 2023 reached $510 million, up $121.2 million from the 52 weeks prior. And although NA products aren’t restricted by the three-tier system that regulates alcohol sales in the United States, traditional alcohol retail channels account for over 30 percent of NA sales, indicating that retailers should be adding these products to their catalogs in-store and online.

“Currently, 65 percent of stores on our platform carry non-alcoholic products,” says Paquette. “Retailers should understand that many of the consumers who are shopping for non-alc products are also purchasing alcoholic products in the same basket, offering an opportunity to reach consumers who want both while also increasing basket sizes.” 

As the share of sales has risen, so has the number of options: There are now more than 100 non-alcoholic brands available across Drizly, a 70 percent uptick from 2021.

“Five years ago, the vast majority of these products didn’t exist,” says Marcos Salazar, the CEO of the Adult Non-Alcoholic Beverage Association, a trade group founded in 2021 to advance high-quality NA drinks. “A lot of entrepreneurs saw the gap and in 2018 [and] 2019 more non-alcoholic options started to come out that were just as good, and in some cases better, than their alcoholic counterparts.”

Who Is Drinking Non-Alcoholic Wine, Beer, and Spirits?

Combined with the growth of health and wellness products, Generation Z and millennial consumers are propelling the NA trend-forward, though Nielsen data indicates baby boomers are increasingly reaching for NA alternatives too. 

Salazar notes a number of societal changes that have led to increased interest. Gen Z consumers drink less alcohol, for one, and consumers overall have reevaluated their relationships to alcohol during the pandemic. Additionally, people have been more mindful about the foods they consume over the past couple of decades, and that’s starting to show with beverages, too.

“Alcohol-free is actually a status symbol now,” says Salazar. “Thinking about your mental health and your physical health is also a status symbol, and there are high-powered visible people making these choices publicly in a way that wasn’t done in earlier generations.” 

Whereas alcohol is often reserved for certain social situations and contexts, those limitations don’t exist for non-alcoholic beverages. 

“Younger generations are drinking less alcohol in general,” says Itzkovitz. “A lot of that comes from the desire to just get out there and be able to experience things without having the hindrance of alcohol or over-consumption, not to mention the even bigger macro trend of health and wellness. People are way more mindful of what they are putting in their bodies right now.”

Major metropolitan areas lead NA sales on Drizly. The top markets that over-index on non-alcoholic sales include Boston, Denver, northern New Jersey, Brooklyn, and Washington, D.C. Nielsen data also indicates that five states – California, Massachusetts, Colorado, Michigan, and Ohio – make up over 30 percent of NA beverage sales, suggesting that regional trends heavily influence NA consumption. 

NA Beer Is King, but NA Wine and Spirits Are Growing

While non-alcoholic beer remains the largest subcategory within NA options and has experienced a growth of 35 percent in 2023, NA wine and spirits also experienced huge leaps in popularity, expanding by 83 and 167 percent year-over-year, respectively. 

Dedicated, craft NA brands, like Athletic Brewing, continue to grain ground in the NA space, although Nielsen data indicates over half of new NA releases in 2023 are extensions of existing lines from established alcohol brands. Currently, Athletic Brewing has four of the top 10 beer SKUs on Drizly in 2023 to date, and the remaining six are all produced by major breweries including Heineken, Budweiser, and Corona.

Drizly’s Top-Selling Non-Alcoholic Beer SKUs on Drizly, 2023 to Date

  1. Heineken Non-Alcoholic 0.0
  2. Athletic Brewing Run Wild IPA
  3. Athletic Brewing Upside Dawn
  4. Athletic Brewing Free Wave Hazy IPA
  5. Budweiser Zero Full-Flavored Zero Alcohol Brew
  6. Guinness 0, Non-Alcoholic Draught
  7. Stella Artois Liberté 0.0%
  8. Corona Non-Alcoholic Malt Beverage Mexican Brew
  9. O’Doul’s Non-Alcoholic Beer
  10. Athletic Brewing – Non-Alcoholic Seasonal Offering

“The spirits side is exciting right now because there’s getting to be a lot more, and they’re higher and higher quality,” says Salazar. He also notes the potential for growth in the ready-to-drink category.

Though the NA spirits category is growing rapidly, it’s dominated by two major brands: Seedlip and Ritual Zero Proof. Over the past year, however, there have been several newcomers to the list. New entrant St. Agrestis, an amaro brand based in Brooklyn, now sits in the number two spot with its NA Negroni cocktail. Kin Euphorics, another newcomer, also made the top 10 list with its wellness-centric drinks, which contain ingredients like adaptogens.

Drizly’s Top-Selling Non-Alcoholic Spirits SKUs on Drizly, 2023 to Date

  1. Seedlip Grove 42 Non-Alcoholic Spirit
  2. St. Agrestis Non-Alcoholic Phony Negroni
  3. Ritual Zero Proof Tequila Alternative
  4. Seedlip Garden 108 Non-alcoholic Spirit
  5. Seedlip Spice 94 Non-alcoholic Spirit
  6. Kin Euphorics Lightwave Non-Alcoholic Drinks
  7. Ritual Zero Proof Whiskey Alternative
  8. Ghia Signature Non-Alcoholic Apéritif
  9. Ritual Zero Proof Gin Alternative
  10. Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Italian Spritz

A handful of companies also dominate the bestsellers across NA wines, though traditional Long Island winery Wölffer Estate has come from behind to top the list in 2023; their NA wine was only launched in spring 2021.

Drizly’s Top-Selling Non-Alcoholic Wine SKUs on Drizly, 2023 to Date

  1. Wölffer Spring In A Non-Alcoholic Wine
  2. Fre Chardonnay
  3. Ariel Cabernet Sauvignon
  4. Fre Sparkling Brut
  5. Lautus De-Alcoholised Sauvignon Blanc
  6. Ariel Chardonnay
  7. Freixenet Alcohol Removed Sparkling Wine
  8. Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider
  9. Fre Merlot
  10. Lautus De-Alcoholised Savvy Red Wine

Seasonality and Add-On Sales Drive NA Market

According to Nielsen, sales of NA beverages peak around July 4th and year-end holidays, though the “Dry January” trend leads to the longest sustained periods of purchasing which aligns with Drizly data. “The most popular month for sales across non-alcoholic categories was January as a result of the dry January movement,” says Paquette. “Retailers should consider non-alcoholic categories as a key part of their stocking strategy and keep a close eye on innovation as more and more products hit the market and consumer awareness grows.”

In order to maximize sales for this category, Paquette recommends retailers bring in some of the top new NA offerings onto the shelf. “Retailers should begin with stocking the top-selling brands,” she says. “It’s a good idea to starting with offering products that are growing in consumer awareness nationally, such as Athletic Brewing or Seedlip.”