The month of January signifies numerous moments, with one key classifier being “Dry January,” otherwise known as the first 31 days of the year when people choose to cut out alcohol. Whether people intend to use Dry January as a way to explore sobriety, become more intentional with drinking, complement a fitness challenge, or make it part of their New Year’s Resolutions, it’s celebrated by many and all over the world. According to TIME, Dry January began in the UK in 2012 as part of a public health initiative from a British charity named Alcohol Change UK, an alcohol charity that works to reduce harm caused by alcohol.

Trends indicate that year over year, involvement in Dry January is increasing. Data from Morning Consult Pro shows that 21% of U.S. adults who are 21 and over have indicated that they are participating in Dry January this year, which is a 6% increase in involvement from last year.

With Dry January in full swing, Taboola analyzed readership year over year to unveil key related trends. The analysis accounts for hundreds of millions of views by readers of news articles in the U.S., from January 2022 to December 2023.

Non-Alcoholic Whiskey is Having its Moment

Yahoo Finance indicated that consumer interest in whiskey is on the rise and one of the most popular liquors by growth, fueled by the recent comeback of cocktail-making culture, as well as the desire for ready-to-drink cocktails. Taboola readership shows that non-alcoholic whiskey is the most popular non-alcoholic spirit, with a 114% increase in readership interest over the past year. This supports the notion that consumers who are participating in a ‘dry’ challenge or choosing to go alcohol-free are continuing to seek out their favorite beverages, despite the lack of ABV.

Topic Readership increase or decrease from 2022-2023
Non-alcoholic whiskey 114% increase
Non-alcoholic gin 111% increase
Non-alcoholic beer 88% increase
Non-alcoholic wine 36% increase

‘Healthy’ Sodas and Other Spirit-Free Beverages Are on the Rise

This year, more non-alcoholic beverage brands, including low-sugar prebioitic soda company, Olipop, are joining in on the Dry January movement. According to Modern Retail, Olipop didn’t originally view itself as an alternative to alcohol or option for those taking part in Dry January. But last year, the brand noticed a trend of people posting videos of themselves pouring Olipop cans into wine glasses. As a result, the brand is giving away free sodas this month as part of its ‘Mocktails in Minutes’ campaign. Compared to competitors, Olipop is seeing the most online interest year over year, with readership skyrocketing by 146%.

Topic Readership increase or decrease from 2022-2023
Olipop 146% increase
Poppi 123% increase
Ghia 12% increase

What’s Next for the Spirit-Free Movement?

Dry January may be coming to a close, but health conscious consumers won’t have to wait until January 2025 to take part in another experiment. Later this year, ‘Sober October’ will launch again, mimicking the 31-day alcohol-free challenge set by Dry January. Data from alcohol-reduction app Sunnyside indicates that the phrase ‘Sober October’ has almost doubled in interest since 2022. Taboola’s network also shows that ‘Sober October’ is gaining traction — year over year, it received a 152% increase in readership interest, suggesting another popular alcohol-free month to come this year.

Topic Readership increase or decrease from 2022-2023
Sober October 152% increase
Non-alcoholic beverages 29% increase
Sober drinking 21% increase

How publishers and advertisers can join in on Dry January and Sober October

‘Dry’ challenges can be difficult — chances are, participating consumers are especially relying on their favorite publisher sites for alcohol-free education, ideas, and advice during these timeframes. Publishers in the food, health, and wellness verticals should plan their coverage accordingly and ensure that a portion of news throughout the months of January and October is focused on promoting related topics and sharing resources to help their readers power through.

The recent Olipop success story is an example of a brand that adopted its Dry January campaign later on, but came out on top. Given the rising interest in ‘dry’ challenges, advertisers in similar verticals should consider implementing their own campaigns, even if they haven’t done so in the past.

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