One of the biggest headlines of the pandemic was: Everyone drank a lot at home and ordered in large quantities alcohol. It’s true, but it’s also true that despite (or because of?) The beverage trend, zero-proof spirits also experienced sales shocks.
Ritual Zero Proof, one of the first American non-alcoholic spirit alternatives launched in the fall of 2019. The following year could have been sad for the new brand, given the usual ways for consumers to discover new beverage products (bars, tasting events) were suffocated during national lockdowns. And well, people drank cocktails at home and increased Drizly sales to frothy heights.
Launched with zero-proven all-natural botanical alternatives to gin, whiskey and later, tequila, Ritual Zero Proof is also tracking strong consumer interest. The company had a growth of 241% in revenue in 2020 and is already on track to beat these sales, according to company executives.
Earlier this month, the Chicago-based company launched its latest expression, a dark rum alternative, flavorful with Tupelo honey, clove and cinnamon. An online pre-sale of rum set a company high for the best single sale to date, cutting a 38% increase from the previous record.
“There is this perception that because of lockdowns, everyone became interested in health, and at the same time, alcohol sales increased,” says Ritual Zero Proof co-founder Marcus Sakey. “I think the pandemic had very little impact on our sales in one way or another.”
The increase in sales for Ritual was not surprising to Sakey given what he has learned about his consumers. The typical zero-resistant consumer, Sakey says, is the same person who might buy beef as well as plant-based meals and drink milk as well as oat milk. In short, this is someone who just wants more balance, not necessarily exclusion.
“[Our customers] are aware of their habits and at the same time very protective of them, ”says Sakey. “They want to make a cocktail and not feel bad about it. What they love in Ritual is the ability to mix a cocktail no matter how they want. ”
“Our approach is: We are not alcohol-free, we try it your way,” says Sakey. He adds that up to half of Americans actively try to drink less, while at least a third of Americans do not drink at all.
Given the mass closures of venues last year, Ritual (and other zero-resistance options) may not yet be in your local bar or store. But with the reopening of the economy and the growing demand from consumers, expect more zero-sum options to pop up in bar menus and grocery shelves.
While Ritual was first launched, the company faced opposition from bars that were skeptical about buying non-alcoholic bottles priced similarly to lower spirits, but that perception is changing, in part because of economics. “Beverage executives see this as a new revenue stream,” Sakey says. “The person who wants a non-alcoholic drink will not order a highly determined cocktail. It’s money they’re losing. ”