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Brewers embrace Dry January as US beer consumption declines


A still image from Heineken O.O video ad

Source: Heineken

Americans are drinking less beer, encouraged by trends like Dry January. But brewers like Molson Coors Beverage and Heineken are trying to use the monthlong sobriety challenge to promote their beer.

Dry January started in the United Kingdom in 2013. Since then, the movement has spread worldwide, including the United States, where overall alcohol consumption continues to fall. Over one-fifth of Americans participated in Dry January in 2019, according to Nielsen.

And some consumers, dubbed “sober curious,” are also making an effort to reduce their alcohol intake during the other 11 months of the year.

That shift, as well as competition from other kinds of alcohol, is hitting beer companies.

U.S. beer volumes declined by 1.6% in 2018, according to data from IWSR. The firm, which tracks alcohol trends, found that cider and hard seltzers are taking share from beer. Younger consumers are drinking less overall, including beer.

But all hope is not lost for brewers. No- and low-alcohol beer is the fifth-fastest growing type of beer in the U.S., according to Nielsen. According to IWSR data, the most frequent consumers of low- and no-alcohol drinks are between 21 to 44 years old — an age bracket that mostly includes millennials, with some Generation X consumers — and male.

Molson Coors is promoting its low-alcohol beer Miller64 through an advertising campaign, starring Nicholas Braun of “Succession,” asking consumers to participate in “Dry-ish January.” Miller64, which relaunched in September, is aimed at health-conscious drinkers with its low-calorie count.

The campaign comes as Molson Coors tries to adapt to consumers’ shifting tastes — even by changing the company name. In January, the company’s name changed from Molson Coors Brewing Co. to Molson Coors Beverage Co. It also announced a restructuring effort that will result in 400 to 500 lost jobs.

Heineken launched its nonalcoholic beer, Heineken 0.0, in the U.S. in January last year. This year, the brewer is giving away cans of the alcohol-free beer in its January Dry Pack. Customers can claim the free 31-pack at januarydrypack.com.

Anheuser-Busch InBev tested Budweiser 0.0 in certain U.S. markets in 2019. The drink launched in India last year, but the company has not shared any plans to introduce it stateside. Anheuser-Busch’s nonalcoholic portfolio also includes O’Doul’s, the best known alcohol-free beer in the U.S.



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