How Public Relations Helped Shape the Rise of Non-Alcoholic Beverages

The non-alcoholic beverage category has exploded over the past couple of years, and one PR industry leader credits much of this growth to smart comms strategies. Elev8 New Media CEO Jessica Starman explains how, with the right PR moves, companies can effectively navigate this ever-evolving landscape and tap into the growing demand for healthier alternatives.

As today's society becomes increasingly more aware of the negative effects of alcohol, non-alcoholic beverages have witnessed a surge in popularity among young, health-conscious individuals exploring sober-curious lifestyles. Last year, the non-alcoholic beverage industry’s response was to introduce over 70 new products to satiate demand for healthier alternatives to their boozier counterparts. Public relations (PR) agencies and firms have done a remarkable job operating at the center of the industry’s efforts to get their brands out in front of the right consumers, particularly those in the millennial and Gen-Z demographics who are making a deliberate effort to avoid alcohol consumption.

With a team of PR professionals specializing in the F&B industry, among others, we understand the challenges faced by non-alcoholic beverage makers in effectively engaging with their target market. In this article, you will find valuable PR strategies that can help brands and companies maximize outreach efforts to better resonate with their desired audiences, whether they choose to work with an internal team, external agency or independently.

PR is propelling the rise of non-alcoholic beverages

PR firms have successfully created an alluring and favorable public image for the non-alcoholic beverages industry. By helping the industry distribute this image across a wide array of critical media channels, these PR firms share a large amount of the credit for an industry that surpassed $11 billion in market value last year.

We certainly should not expect the party to end any time soon. With the growing popularity of non-alcoholic beverages like the lineup from Athletic Brewing Co. consisting of several craft beers and Hoppy Refresher from Lagunitas, the industry is expected to remain on a tear for the next few years with some estimates forecasting a +25 percent growth rate through 2026 in the U.S. alone. In fact, the popularity of non-alcoholic beverages is growing so much, The New Bar in Venice Beach, California, sells only non-alcoholic beverages to its patrons.

Marketing and PR are aligned

When Heineken decided to spend over $6 million on a 30-second Super Bowl ad to promote non-alcoholic beer, you could feel the seismic shifts happening in modern branding strategies. That happened last year when the world’s second-largest beer brewer ran a Super Bowl ad to promote its non-alcoholic beer, Heineken 0.0. It was an innovative and groundbreaking branding strategy and a profound example of how the broader landscape is changing — not just PR. Modern marketing and PR firms have played a crucial role in helping industry titans like Heineken and Monster Beverage Corp. maximize their growth potential by navigating this new-age movement that is here to stay.

PR firms are offering key players in the non-alcoholic beverages industry unique expertise as to why so many consumers are turning to this industry. Hint: It is not just social drinking that consumers are after. 

There are three strategies to highlight in particular that PR firms have applied to help these non-alcoholic beverage companies elevate their brand(s) with great success:

Craft compelling narratives

Storytelling remains a powerful tool in PR and it is particularly effective when targeting the younger, more health-conscious market. Develop a compelling narrative that emphasizes the unique aspects of your brand. Focus on the value your product brings to consumers’ lives and how it aligns with their aspirations for a healthier, more conscious lifestyle. By tapping into their desires and aspirations, you can create a connection that goes beyond simple product promotion.

Authenticity is key in crafting a compelling narrative. Share the story behind your brand — origins, values, missions, etc. People are increasingly drawn to brands they perceive as genuine and trustworthy, so sharing an authentic story can foster a stronger audience connection.

Capitalize on influencer partnerships

With over 95 percent of society’s younger consumers citing social media as their “go-to” source for shopping inspiration, it is easy to understand why social media dramatically alters how industries promote their brands. One of the most successful PR strategies now being adopted by the non-alcoholic beverage industry that falls within the expansive realm of social media is the use of “influencers.”

And why not? The tremendous value of these online influencers is that they have already done the hard work required to build legions of online followers who all want to see their content. It is a phenomenon that PR firms are capitalizing on to help their clients achieve greater brand awareness. For example, Three Spirit Drinks is a brand of non-alcoholic beverages that are made to appeal to socially conscious consumers because of its natural, plant-based ingredients. However, the company has also used a mixture of micro and macro influencers to promote its brand successfully. 

PR firms are vital in managing influencer “campaigns” for their non-alcoholic beverage clients. They have the skills and expertise to properly vet influencers for the industry and play an important role in overseeing the distribution of their client’s messages.  

Engage in purposeful activism and ESG

A recent study showed that almost 75 percent of today’s consumers would be willing to change their consumption habits if it meant minimizing their carbon footprint. Half of those consumers would be willing to pay more for the product. 

Non-alcoholic beverage companies need to draw in consumers like any other product. Innovative PR firms have been instrumental in helping the industry achieve this by crafting and distributing a simple message: choosing a non-alcoholic beverage means doing your part to save our environment.

In other words, PR firms have helped fuel the growth of non-alcoholic beverages by presenting the industry as a morally upright and socially responsible industry. Consider championing causes that align with your brand’s values, such as promoting sustainable sourcing, supporting local communities or advocating for responsible consumption.

By capitalizing on influencer partnerships, crafting compelling narratives and engaging in purposeful activism, non-alcoholic beverage makers can strengthen their brand image, connect with their target audience and drive organic sales. With the right PR strategies, companies can effectively navigate this ever-evolving landscape and tap into the growing demand for healthier alternatives.


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