Since the concept of “dry January” first caught on in the United States, many Americans have taken the opportunity to reset after the holidays by giving up alcohol for the first month of the year. Twenty percent of adults surveyed by Nielsen in early 2019 reported taking part in dry January that year, and more than 80 percent said they planned to do it again in 2020.

But amidst reports of more Americans increasing their at-home drinking amidst the pandemic, will consumers be ready to hop back on the wagon in January 2021? Or have Covid-related shifts in consumer behavior put an end to the trend? To help retailers maximize profits, even among those consumers participating in dry January, BevAlc Insights explored Drizly sales data for nonalcoholic wine, beer, and spirits and marketing tips. 

“Damp” January

Mary Reid, the executive director of the Moderation Management Network (MM), which provides digital support and tools for participants of the organization’s annual Dryuary campaign, says 2021 registrations are currently down about 50 percent from this time last year — though she expects potential last-minute signups.

“We are seeing comments from people in countries that have enforced strict Covid protocols that say, ‘If the pub is open, I’m going to be there,’” she says. “So, if opportunities to socialize increase, people are not going to deny themselves this pleasure after months of isolation.”

Historically, January has seen the lowest sales of the year on Drizly, following the platform’s biggest sales month in December. This year, however, could be a different story. 

“As Covid restrictions continue to tighten across the country and states like California go back into stay-at-home orders, it is very possible that this could impact the trend we have seen in years prior,” says Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights. “Coming off of a very different holiday season in 2020, customers may take an altered approach to the month. While some may substitute purchases with nonalcoholic options, others may simply opt for lower-ABV or more health-conscious alternatives.”

According to a recent survey among Drizly consumers, 9.2 percent said they would be participating in dry January in 2021, while 8.2 percent said they would drink less but not fully participate. A further 22 percent were not sure if they would participate in dry January this year. In order to meet the needs of those looking for a “damp” January, rather than a fully dry January, retailers should ensure that they have several low-ABV options in stock, such as hard seltzer and liqueurs.

Nonalcoholic Products to Stock

In 2020, nonalcoholic products accounted for less than one percent share of Drizly’s sales for the wine, beer, and spirits categories. Even so, Paquette recommends that retailers familiarize themselves with leading brands in the nonalc space such as Ariel and Seedlip.

“When shopping online, customers typically select the brand or product they are looking for first, then choose a retailer based on who has that item in stock,” she says. “By offering nonalcoholic options, retailers can attract customers who are searching for these specific products and differentiate themselves from competition in their market.”

While large, familiar brands remain top-of-mind for consumers, newer entries to the category are gaining popularity. Drizly’s top-selling spirits and wine SKUs in 2020 were dominated by a few major brands—Seedlip and Lyre’s for spirits, and Ariel and Fre for wine—but there is a broader range of nonalcoholic beers on the market, with many craft breweries creating nonalcoholic brews as well.

Drizly’s Top-Selling Nonalcoholic Beer SKUs, 2020

  1. Heineken Non-Alcoholic 0.0 
  2. Athletic Brewing Run Wild Non-Alcoholic IPA
  3. Clausthaler Original Non-Alcoholic 
  4. Coors Non-Alcoholic Beer 
  5. Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Alkoholfrei
  6. Clausthaler Amber Non-Alcoholic 
  7. Clausthaler Dry Hopped Non-Alcoholic
  8. Gruvi Non-Alcoholic IPA
  9. Clausthaler Grapefruit Non-Alcoholic 
  10. Wellbeing Intentional Non-Alcoholic IPA 

Along with stocking sought-after products, Paquette suggests using digital platforms to promote nonalcoholic and low-ABV selections. “Retailers can use their social media, email, and other channels to let customers know these offerings are available to purchase both in-store and online,” she says. “Marketing through these outlets and linking directly to Drizly creates an easy path of purchase for customers looking to shop online and get products delivered.”