DrinkWise commissioned independent research from Quantum Market Research to understand Australian attitudes and behaviours towards zero, low and mid-strength alcohol products across age groups, genders and drinking settings. A nationally representative sample of 3,000 adults were surveyed in July-August 2021.
The sample’s drinking practices were assessed against the new alcohol guidelines issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council and 18% reported to be abstainers, 66% moderate consumers and just over a third (34%) classified as risky drinkers.
We asked consumers to reflect on their drinking practices since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the majority (81%) reported that their alcohol consumption had stayed the same or decreased. Of the (19%) who had increased their consumption, nearly a third who had increased their drinking were classified as risky drinkers.
Interestingly 32% of those who reported that their consumption had decreased since the start of the pandemic attributed the use of lower and zero alcohol products as assisting them to reduce their consumption.
This provided an indication that zero and lower alcohol alternatives could assist the 43% of the drinkers surveyed who signaled they wanted to cut down their consumption to some degree.
Half (51%) of consumers surveyed were already consuming lower and zero alcohol products to moderate their overall consumption and significant proportions of risky drinkers had indicated their willingness to adopt mid strength, lower and zero strength alcohol products to cut down.
The DrinkWise research found there was potential to tap into existing practices, attitudes and intentions around zero and low-alcohol alternatives, particularly for risky drinkers to reduce their overall consumption. There is an opportunity to remove any stigma by showcasing the range, sophistication and increasing adoption of lower and zero strength alcohol products given over a third (35%) of those aged 18-44 years admitted they would hide the fact they’re not drinking alcohol or drinking lower strength products from the people they’re with.
The research found that by and large consumers use of zero, low and mid strength alcohol products occurs alongside consumption of full strength products (90%), though consumption of zero and low-strength products is more likely on weekdays as opposed to weekends. This finding was broadly consistent across the states and territories. Australians aged 18-44 years are twice as likely to consume zero and low-strength alcohol consumption compared with those aged over 45 years.
This research has confirmed the value of raising awareness and facilitating easier access to lower strength and zero alcohol products to overcome any perceived barriers so that consumers can make safer, healthier and more responsible decisions around alcohol. This is consistent with the World Health Organisation’s Global Alcohol Strategy to Reduce Harmful Alcohol Consumption, that identifies that a harm reduction approach can be supported by stronger promotion of products with lower alcohol concentration.
As a first step in applying these research insights, DrinkWise partnered with Endeavour Group to commence a trial of dedicated zero, low and mid-strength sections in selected BWS and Dan Murphy’s stores. This has been combined with in-store messaging to help encourage consideration of zero, low and mid-strength alcohol options at the time that purchases are being made. The trial has commenced in Queensland, with a variety of stores being rolled out across the country in coming weeks.
 The project was carried out in line with the Market Research International Standard, AS ISO 20252
 Global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, World Health Organisation 2010