Running Dry on Marketing Ideas? Get Inspired by the Non-Alcoholic Beverage Industry.

The non-alcoholic drinks category is booming, thanks to demand plus some remarkable marketing. Tech marketers, take note.

Written by Molly Jones
Published on Mar. 07, 2024
Running Dry on Marketing Ideas? Get Inspired by the Non-Alcoholic Beverage Industry.
Image: Shutterstock / Built In
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Brilliant marketing from some of the bigger tech companies catches eyes, perks up ears and demands attention. But face it: Most tech marketing, especially in the B2B space, can be pretty dry. How can tech marketers get the creative juices flowing? 

I believe the answer lies in the non-alcoholic (NA) beverage industry.

3 Marketing Lessons from the Non-Alcoholic Beverage Industry

  1. Keep segmentation agile to keep up with changing consumer preferences.
  2. Market the experience your product offers to customers.
  3. Try experiential marketing to let consumers see how the product fits with their lifestyle.

NA beverage companies compete in a market where their offerings lack the main attraction: Alcohol. In 2023, one-third of Americans expressed an interest in drinking non-alcoholic options. Two factors are at play here. One is the public’s curiosity about the sober lifestyle above and beyond Dry January. Another is that NA beverage companies have figured out how to reach these consumers and how to make their offerings stand out even when placed side by side with their alcohol-infused relatives. 

Below, I’ve rounded up four important takeaways from analyzing effective  NA brand marketing strategies and how tech can and should use these lessons.

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Keep Segmentation Agile 

Sure, customer segmentation can be an effective tool for tech companies to identify and engage with key demographics. But when it is treated as a one-time exercise, segmentation quickly becomes less a tool and more a trap as the ever-evolving preferences of the customers fail to be identified and addressed.

The NA industry is all too familiar with its customers’ constantly changing identities and needs. A person could identify as sober-curious one week and in a month choose to go completely alcohol-free. Alex Highsmith, co-owner of Spirited Away, one of the first alcohol free bottle shops in the nation, has witnessed firsthand the uptick in interest from a continually evolving customer base. Despite many customers still choosing to drink alcohol, complex drinks with spicy and bitter notes have tempted them to the sober lifestyle.

​​Shifting consumer behaviors require a dynamic and iterative approach to segmentation. Alcohol-free beverage companies understand this and develop an agile marketing structure that encourages continual refinement and understanding of their audiences to craft tailored and responsive strategies. Static segmentation risks stagnation and to stay competitive, tech companies should stay agile continually revising and fine-tuning their segmented groups to stay both relevant and dynamic. 


Market the Experience

One way to maintain a sharp edge in a sea of similar products is to market the experience of using your product. Instead of merely promoting their product, a non-alcoholic fermented beverage product made from single-origin teas, Unified Ferments markets the sophisticated and sensory experience that their beverages offer, particularly within the fine dining world.

Inviting customers to engage with their beverages in the context of food pairing, Unified Ferments conjures the ritual and pleasure of matching drinks with meals, an experience traditionally associated with alcoholic beverages. In doing so, they transcend conventional product-focused marketing to tap into their customers’ desire for inclusive and sophisticated dining experiences without alcohol. 

This method broadens their appeal to their target customer and elevates the perception of NA options as mature, refined choices, on par with their alcoholic counterparts and far from the world of too-sweet mocktails.

Tech companies would do well to follow the same strategy when marketing their products. By focusing on the experience and benefits of using their technology, rather than the features themselves, they can create a more compelling story that resonates with customers. This approach also allows them to differentiate themselves from competitors who are offering similar products but haven’t yet figured out how to communicate those benefits effectively.


Consider Experiential Marketing 

Immorel Beverages, a line of sparkling, mushroom-based teas, focuses on moving the buying process from the digital backdrop to a hands-on, in-person approach through experiential marketing. Haley Kats, co-founder of Immorel Beverages, explains the strategy as developing a brand universe that immerses customers into an interconnected community larger than themselves.

This brand universe is made manifest through marketing and social interactions that display the company’s deep respect and love for mushrooms, an essential component of its products. Immorel Beverages aims to motivate customers to adopt mushrooms into their lifestyle in a way that resonates personally and creates a holistic, rewarding experience.

By offering interactive tasting experiences and opportunities to take part in a growing community, Immorel Beverages develops deeply rooted connections and experiences that lead to organic growth, underscoring the significance of maintaining strong relationships with those who both serve and enjoy their beverages.

This strategy highlights a crucial takeaway for tech: Much of the power of experiential marketing lies in its ability to transform a product into an experience that is just as vital as the technology itself. By integrating products into environments where their targeted customers naturally congregate to share insights, recommendations and the experience of the product itself, companies can foster natural conversations that translate into sustainable engagement and relationships. 

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Own What You Aren’t 

Discovering that the absence of alcohol is actually an appeal for health-conscious consumers, brands have started to endorse the unique benefits of their products’ non-alcoholic nature, including guilt-free enjoyment, healthy choices and inclusivity.

Taking this cue, tech companies faced with saturated markets can find value in emphasizing what they aren’t. A tech company might spotlight its decision not to use AI, focusing instead on the power of human insight. Or perhaps it is not cloud-based, a decision driven by prioritizing data security, a trait many consumers place a premium on. There is potent power in this strategy, as companies are able to not just differentiate themselves from competitors but craft a distinct identity to cut through market clutter and resonate strongly with their target audience. 

By pioneering agile customer segmentation to ensure perpetual relevance, marketing distinct experiences as opposed to the product itself, harnessing the power of experiential marketing, and knowing exactly what you are and (more importantly) what you aren’t, you can develop tangible and deeply personal strategies. These strategies will distinguish your brand and product and celebrate and position its unique value propositions. 

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