Insights Piece: The Rise of NOLO

Image by First Aid Box London
The Office of National Statistics last year revealed a fall in global alcohol consumption for the first time this century. It has been widely reported that the proportion of young people choosing to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes is the lowest on record. Meanwhile, the preoccupation with personal image continues to rise at an alarming rate. Our fixation with our image and our health is forcing retailers and alcohol brands to stand up and take notice. It is a shift in attitude that is fast reshaping the food and drinks brand landscape with new category winners and losers. With it come new challenges and opportunities that will disrupt business as usual for traditional players. Some no and low-alcohol brands have emerged on top and are by nature well placed to compete and cater to new consumer demand. In recent days we have seen Tesco roll out the largest NOLO (No and Low) alcohol section in its history – a decision that will accelerate growth and bring more visibility to the category as a whole. The question remains how far and how fast the NOLO category will grow. Whilst 1 in 5 young adults in the UK have turned away from alcohol altogether, 4 in 5 have not. With the NOLO category accelerating, does this encroach on the territory of traditional alcoholic drinks? The increased preoccupation with health has not as yet created a nation of teetotallers so much as a nation of people that agree with (and actually abide by) the notion of ‘less is more’. Across no, low and traditional alcohol brands we see resources pouring into new product development. Others are reassessing how they frame their ranges and concentrating funds and efforts on evolving the consumer experience on and off-trade. The challenge for drinks brands looking to have a portion of the fast-growing ‘free-from’ (or ‘less-is-more’) pie will be to design products and experiences that don’t just ride the wave, but actually influence a shift in mindset and a resulting change in behaviour. As a retail and branding design agency with extensive experience in the drinks category we ourselves started to take notice of the trend through our clients. We decided to investigate and focus in on three behavioural pillars that seem to be having the most notable impact in boosting growth in the category, both for NOLO brands and for the alcohol brands that are succeeding at reinventing their offer: ‘Wellness’, ‘Brand Me’, and ‘The New Counterculture’. In this piece we investigate how brands are adapting and in turn influencing new behaviours through design – from product and experience, through to purchase. Get in touch to receive the full report.