Excerpted from adweek.com.
A tiny booze-free bottle shop in Los Angeles has landed a first-of-its-kind deal with Coachella for on-site bars during both weekends of the upcoming desert music festival.
The New Bar, which opened its doors in July and quickly cemented its place as a community hub, will be the official nonalcoholic retail partner of the nearly sold out concert series in Indio, Calif., which starts April 14.
Founder Brianda Gonzalez has had her sights set on a partnership with Coachella since launching her business, though she’s leading a bare-bones operation of three people. By comparison, a brick-and-mortar pioneer in the fast-growing nonalcoholic space, Boisson, now has multiple locations in New York and California.
“Coachella could’ve gone with a bigger player,” Gonzalez told Adweek. “We think this is really going to put us on the map and bring a ton of visibility to us and the category. And it could change the way people think about non-alc and where it can show up.”
At two pop-up bars on the Empire Polo Club grounds, The New Bar will be serving Hop Wtr, French Bloom wine, Heineken 0.0, ready-to-drink Kin Euphorics products and other alcohol-free brands. Bartenders will mix up cocktails with Spiritless tequila and bourbon substitutes, along with custom-created festival-themed libations.
Coachella is “a great vehicle for consumer education,” Spiritless CEO Lauren Chitwood told Adweek. The festival also fits strategically with the Kentucky-based brand’s participation in events like the Aspen Food & Wine festival and an ongoing Drybar collaboration.
The seminal spring music fest also coincides with a boost in Spiritless distribution, with the brand expanding beyond specialty stores to Walmart, Target, Kroger, CVS and other mass channels. The total will top 17,000 shops within the next few months, per Chitwood.
“We see Coachella as an opportunity to make an important investment to play on a larger field,” Chitwood said. “We’re being really intentional in building this brand, and this feels like the right partners, the right eyeballs and the right time.”
High on life
Coachella, an AEG property, has historically been a pop culture hotbed where brands large and small gather to court young Hollywood and the influential crowd that attends. Featuring a purposely eclectic 2023 lineup—including Bad Bunny, Blackpink, Gorillaz, Frank Ocean, Charli XCX, Bjork, Pusha T and Rosalia—the concerts will take place just outside Palms Springs on two consecutive weekends.
The festival has experimented with booze-free vendors in the past—Heineken is a repeat sponsor—and set up its own Bar Not Bar in 2018, pouring nonalcoholic cocktails made with Seedlip and other booze-free spirits. This year’s version is a larger-scale endeavor, tapping into The New Bar’s fan base and planting a flag in the booming booze-free space, which reached $11 billion in global market value in 2022, per IWSR.
“Seeing these types of partnerships in the category with major properties like Coachella only validates what we are seeing every day out in the field,” said Jim Gunning, CMO of Northern California nonalcoholic beer brand Best Day Brewing. “The level of curiosity and trial continue to grow, and having a dedicated footprint at a major festival only validates the increasing demand for more diverse nonalcoholic options.”
Booze-free Gen Z
The deal comes as an increasing number of consumers in the U.S. are rethinking their relationship with alcohol.
One in four Americans is aware of the sober curious movement—63% having learned about it via social media—and 34% of consumers say they’re trying to drink less in 2023, according to a recent study from NC Solutions.
While 24% of consumers in the U.S. say they don’t drink booze at all, 28% said they’ve tried to break up with alcohol.
Awareness and adoption of the category is inching forward, with beer leading the way: 36% of study participants said they have sampled no-ABV beer. Only 12% and 6% have tried alcohol-free wine and spirits, respectively, while 32% are open to sampling those beverages.
There’s a generational divide, with Gen Z having three drinks a week, compared to baby boomers and millennials who average five, per the research. As for mindful drinking, 32% of Gen Z feel they are intentional with their alcohol consumption, compared to 26% of millennials and 23% of both Gen X and baby boomers. According to GlobalData, 29% of Gen Z consumers are actively trying to curb their alcohol intake.
The popular subreddit SoberChella now counts nearly 110,000 members who are discussing ways to navigate the concerts without booze. At the height of its prepandemic popularity, Coachella drew upward of 250,000 fans.
Since it’s a groundbreaking alliance, The New Bar is using data from past Coachella concerts to prep for the anticipated demand for its nonalcoholic drinks. Learnings from the first weekend will inform the second, according to Gonzalez, who plans to stoke the fire with paid media, in-store activations, limited-edition merchandise, and influencer sneak-peek gifts leading up to and surrounding the event.
The tone of the promotion and the on-site pop-ups aims to be inclusive and playful in what will be the biggest event The New Bar has ever done, she said.
“Non-alc doesn’t have to be a boring alternative,” Gonzalez said. “We’re looking to create an exceptional experience for people and focus on fun.”
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