The trend dominating the drinks industry as well as pubs and bars is not low-no alcohol. It is not gluten free. It is not health and sobriety. It is not even craft.
The trend we are seeing at play is more closely linked to an over-arching trend for ‘wellbeing’.
All of the above are sub-trends that neatly crowd beneath the same umbrella. But rather than assume that everyone has suddenly decided that that they want to be teetotal, we need to look at all of the other need states that the wellbeing trend also includes. By doing that, we can predict and satisfy people much more readily.
Never confuse a trend with the result of a trend
Wellbeing is often used to describe health and happiness. Many people construe this as cutting back. But wellbeing also encompasses mental health. Wellbeing includes allowing yourself to have fun. The miscommunication we are seeing from many corners of the industry is that people are going out less and they are drinking much less than before. But those aren’t the trends; those are simply the result of trends.
The importance of choice
Our nation is currently in a state of flux and reassessing life habits and choices. We have mixed feelings about dishonesty over ingredients, process, packaging and marketing. We feel uncertain about the future of our country, its political sway and ways to safeguard people, institutions and our economy. We have a trend for wellbeing that has grown because, as people, we need reassurance. In a world with so many uncertainties we are looking to make some choices that we can uphold as the right ones.
Nobody feels in control. When people feel a loss of control, they control what they can – however small. This impacts on what we imbibe. A small choice at the bar or in a shop becomes ‘our choice’. It matters to us.
Beauty is an antidote to bad things
In reality, the trend is as much about that empowerment as it is about a real need to feel looked after, indulged and pampered. When everything becomes a bit much, we often surround ourselves with things that reflect goodness in our eyes. Sometimes, that might mean we seek out venues with beautiful interiors to admire. This kind of thing can really swing things into favour. Mostly, because beauty is an antidote to bad things. It makes us smile. That perfectly-served drink, those railways tiles and that plump cushion is more important than ever before.
The reason the sub-trends: Low or no alcohol drinks, gluten-free drinks, prosecco, craft beer, even the trend for gin with all its lovely references to ‘botanicals’ are hitting the high notes right now are not because suddenly everyone has a taste for them. It is because we are seeking loveliness, goodness and virtuous indulgence. Those words – they all sound very good, they all sound extremely intriguing and pleasant. We want to feel good and we don’t want to feel bad about wanting a little bit of what we like.
Peace of mind
Consider a spa or a retreat. What it offers the consumer is tranquillity and a lifestyle upgrade amidst the chaos of life. That is what pubs; bars and drinks creators need to tap into. They don’t need to offer peace, but peace of mind. It’s the most important trend and the one that the industry is overlooking.
While everyone is seeking reassurance in brands, they are also seeking all sorts of other things that suggest a need to be ‘looked after’ – people want relaxation, social fun and adventure. We want it all.
Wellness includes living well
When the elderly look at our generation, what do they see? Do they see us living fully? Most commonly remarked reminders from our elders will be: “It goes by so fast. Don’t forget to live.”
Removing and abstaining from things is not always the answer. It is not always what makes people feel happiest. It is socialising, trying new things, living fully (and living well) that people really want more than anything else.
And, really, we owe it to ourselves. Everyone deserves a night out as much as we deserve a lie in.