FNA InnovATE: Adult Sodas

All grown-up: Adult sodas see strong retailer backing in APAC but pricing pinch points persist

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Adult sodas are receiving strong retailer backing and shelf space in the APAC region on the back of the rising alcohol moderation trend.
Adult sodas are receiving strong retailer backing and shelf space in the APAC region on the back of the rising alcohol moderation trend.

Related tags FNA InnovATE Adult drinks non-alcoholic

Adult sodas are receiving strong retailer backing and shelf space in the APAC region on the back of the rising alcohol moderation trend, but the sector still needs to navigate serious challenges in the form of rigid consumer habits and pricing pinch points.

The concept of alcohol consumption moderation in APAC has been on the rise in recent years driven strongly by a boom in consumer health awareness post-COVID-19, and this has in turn led to the accelerated innovation of many types of no-to-low alcoholic (NOLO) beverages across the region.

However, the vast majority of these new innovations have been focused on recreating the entire experience of alcohol consumption experience by emulating existing alcoholic drinks, and many of these have already met with significant success such as Lyre’s non-alcoholic range of spirits and even Heineken’s Heineken 0.0 which have seen widespread popularity throughout the region.

As comes with evolution in any new category, a clear sign of maturation is when segmentation comes into play – and this is what is now happening within the NOLO sector, with a newer category subbed adult sodas, which is dedicated to the innovation of NOLO products that do not emulate existing alcoholic drinks but instead provide an different adult drinking experience using sophistication and unique flavours.

“We’re seeing in many markets that the retailers are most certainly on board behind this sector – they’re making more space in their stores and stocks for these products, so they’ve obviously moved beyond the point of just seeing NOLO drinks and adult sodas as just a fad,”​ Hastings told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“That says a lot because for retail it is obviously very important that products are commercially viable for them and they have to see products move – so if for example they’re replacing a fairly high-moving, tried and tested alcohol unit in a liquor store with a NOLO one that might as yet be untested in the market, that means they’re seeing the huge potential in this space.

“And this shift is clearly already taking place not just with retailers making store space but online platforms also stocking these much more prevalently, so it’s all a good sign that retailers are behind this and it’s not just a B2C situation but also a B2B one.”

That said, Hastings also highlighted that the adult sodas space currently still faces several inevitable teething challenges in terms of consumer behaviour as well as pricing.

“Most consumers, particularly those who are still moderating, are undeniably still looking for a price concession when purchasing something that does not contain any alcohol – so if the NOLO product is not lower in price than alcohol comparatives, it is likely to struggle,”​ he said.

“Consumers still need to be incentivised in some way or compensated for the lack of alcohol – and that is really just a mental thing that will take time to shift – but the issue is that many early movers in this category have ended up being very expensive in a retail sense.

“The other major issue is with helping consumers – particularly more mature adults – find meaningful alternatives to shift to moderation, as they are trying to break habits ingrained in them since very early in adulthood and that’s easier said than done.

“So at this point it’s really the younger generation mostly between 25 and 40 that’s consuming alcohol differently, being more mindful, and are still happy to consume alcohol but yet want to moderate - they have got some habits to shift, but these aren’t yet so ingrained that they can’t shift them.”

Watch the video above to find out more.

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