The Australian Foundation for Alcohol Research analyzes the risks of the popularity of alcohol-free products
January 2020, from FARE (Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education).
“Great taste, zero alcohol” is the new Heineken logo used to sponsor the 0.0 non-alcoholic beer, the zero-alcohol product now trending in many countries and among many alcohol brands.
Particularly, in Australia a limited range of non-alcoholic beer, cider, wine and spirit brands are available.
What is problematic is that, although these products are alternative to alcoholic beverages, they have unrestricted availability and share the same branding and product packaging as the “original” alcohol product. This comes at the convenience for alcohol companies as a way to extend their brands through increased marketing opportunities and reach young people more easily. In fact, there has been a considerate increased popularity.
These non-alcoholic products are sponsored as the alternative to the alcoholic drink but promote consumption during lunch, in the workplace, for those breastfeeding, driving, or doing activities requiring a significant degree of skill and mental alertness.
For example, Heineken launched a “beer drive-thru”, where drivers are encouraged to have a “unique chance” to enjoy the road without compromising the ability to drive.
It is recommended to treat advertising of these products as advertising for alcohol products, therefore, to implement regulations for their marketing. Also, it is advised to sell such products only in licensed places and to place aged 18 years or older.
A video for the “0.0 Now You Can” Heineken campaign, targeting healthy and active people:
- Zero alcohol products are an extension of alcohol brands. The shared marketing, branding and design between alcoholic and zero alcohol products, and their positioning as a soft drink alternative, can result in increased brand awareness and loyalty, including among a wider audience and with those who are not legally allowed to purchase alcohol.18,21,26
- Product marketing strategies for zero alcohol products are of concern. The packaging of zero alcohol products can be difficult to differentiate from alcoholic products and zero alcohol products are promoted in similar ways as alcoholic products.
- State and territory liquor laws and the ABAC Scheme do not adequately cover zero alcohol products, allowing alcohol brands to circumvent established marketing and alcohol product availability regulations.
- Given that zero alcohol products share branding with standard alcohol products, the marketing and availability of these products, particularly in supermarkets, may further normalise alcohol.22
- Zero alcohol products present opportunities for alcohol companies to promote the consumption of alcohol-branded products during times in which alcohol would not normally be consumed (e.g. while driving or during a lunch break), further exposing young people to alcohol advertising and normalising alcohol use.12,13,22
- Non-alcoholic beverage options can provide an alternative to using alcohol. However, consumers’ replacement of alcohol products with zero alcohol products is only likely to occur if they are seen and promoted as true substitutes for alcoholic products.
- Zero alcohol products should be advertised and sold in accordance with the regulations for other alcohol products. Zero alcohol products should only be marketed and sold to adults, with availability limited to bottleshops and other such settings where age verification is required.
Other examples of non-alcoholic marketing: