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  • Jesse Basset

Alcohol Free Beer: Behavioural Marketing Audit



This month’s Behavioural Marketing Audit looks at alcohol free beer: a category that is growing as more people look to reduce or give up alcohol, with sales of no/low alcohol drinks predicted to grow 34% by 2024.


The Behavioural Marketing Audit reviews marketing activity in a category against our insight framework, which is made up of two components:


(1) The ‘psychological needs’ that consumers aim to satisfy through buying brands

(2) The related ‘behavioural drivers’ that impel people to choose one brand over another


This audit looks at the beer brands Heineken 0.0, San Miguel 0,0, Peroni Libera, BrewDog Punk AF and ERDINGER Alkoholfrei.


Three of the brands in the audit - San Miguel 0,0, Peroni Libera and BrewDog Punk AF – all have generic messaging about the flavour being good, despite the fact there is no alcohol. This is built on a simple insight that taste is a barrier to trying alcohol free beers, but it’s an uninspiring message that doesn’t drive curiosity or engagement with the new category. There are no efforts to connect to a deeper need and attract the section of the market that is unsure of alcohol free beer.


It’s when we look at Heineken 0.0 that things get more interesting. They use a range of behavioural drivers to build interest and convert sales. As a large, established and trusted brand, it’s no surprise that the psychological need Heineken leverage via marketing is safety.

They communicate brand history, having been established in 1873, to tap into risk aversion in a category where people may lack knowledge or confidence. Heineken also communicates scarcity by talking about their unique A-Yeast and utilises authority bias by telling the story of how their master brewers spent years crafting the Heineken 0.0 taste. The combination of these messages creates a nice blend of originality within the category and familiarity with the brand.


ERDINGER Alkoholfrei takes things a step further to create a clearly differentiated product with tangible health benefits (yes, there’s such a thing as healthy beer!). ERDINGER Alkoholfrei is isotonic, to quickly quinch your thirst, and contains vitamins B9 and B12, which aids your metabolism and supports the body’s immune system – something we are all more concerned about since the pandemic. Promoting these health benefits taps into the psychological need for control, while also playing to our natural survival instincts.


In the alcohol free beer sector there are still many behavioural driven marketing approaches to explore that can help differentiate and build market share. For example, none of the brands we looked at are tapping into the psychological need to feel part of a community, or to be free to be yourself. There are a range of behavioural drivers under both these needs that can help a brand forge a unique, psychological rooted marketing approach. A brand could promote being part of a group of fellow alcohol free beer drinkers or you could establish a beer brand that goes against the grain, to appeal to those who want to be free to take their own path and not succumb to peer pressure in a world where alcohol plays such a dominant role in social situations.


At Well Behaved we have a wealth of experience working with alcohol brands, and the tools and expertise to help your brand develop a positioning and approach based on deep psychological insight. If you would like to find out more about our Behavioural Marketing Audit approach and how we could tailor one to your brand, then please get in touch.



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