First of all, what is Dry January?
For those who don’t know, Dry January (or “Dry Jan” as it’s commonly known) is an annual trend which encourages people to abstain from drinking alcohol for the entire month of January.
The trend has been gaining popularity in recent years as more and more people become health-conscious and look for ways to improve their overall well-being following events like the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the indulgences of the festive season, Dry Jan is viewed as the perfect way to detox and start the new year off on a healthy foot, with 1 in 5 adults (19%) reportedly participating in 2022.
Naturally, whenever new consumer trends emerge, brands will soon follow as they look for ways to capitalise on the noise it generates in the media and increase sales. Dry January is becoming increasingly popular for brands as it provides them with an opportunity to connect with consumers on a personal level and align themselves with a positive, health-conscious message.
Why does the ‘News Agenda’ matter?
As a PR agency, keeping on top of the current news agenda and understanding consumer trends like Dry Jan is essential for everyone at Hatch. Doing so provides us with the ability to deliver our client’s messages effectively to their stakeholders.
Consumer trends are constantly evolving, so being aware of which ones could impact certain organisations can help to identify new opportunities, anticipate potential challenges, and even carve out competitive advantages through the use of strategic campaigns and messaging.
Tips and tricks for Dry Jan comms
So, how can businesses maximise their impact during Dry Jan? Here’s our top tips:
- Ambient advertising campaigns: OOH marketing is a great way to stand out from the media noise and grab attention. Can you do a public stunt in a high-footfall location that can make passers-by stop in their tracks to take a picture? Murals or ‘floating something down the Thames’ are classic examples.
- Influencer collaborations: Partnering with influencers is a great way to reach a wider audience. Bonus points if they are partaking in Dry Jan themselves as they are more likely to have a strong congruence with the product and promote it to their audience.
- Mailers: Target key media personalities and journalists including your product and various other Dry Jan-related goodies. Make it personable and unique to increase brand recall and encourage advocacy.
- Sampling: Perfect for getting sips on lips and recruiting consumers to the category. If you’re an alcohol-free drinks brand, can you do it outside a tube station to catch commuters on their way home from work? What about going to co-working spaces and handing them out to workers on their lunch break? You could even try a sports venue/gym for players to enjoy a refreshing beverage after physical activity.
- Research-led stories: Getting stats based on local consumers is ideal for interest amongst the trade media. What flavours/formats are trending in your market? Is your category on the rise? How is your brand performing in the on-trade vs. the off-trade?
- Shout about business success: A simple one, but very effective with trade media who want to demonstrate to retailers and venues which products will help them maximise their sales.
What to AVOID
- Insensitivity: Be mindful of the struggles people may face during sobriety and avoid being unsympathetic or dismissive of the challenges they face.
- Misrepresentation: Avoid misrepresenting the brand or the benefits of sobriety, as this can damage the brand’s reputation and credibility.
- Stereotyping: Avoid using stereotypes or promoting harmful cultural attitudes towards sobriety and addiction.
- Jumping on the bandwagon: Avoid using Dry January as a marketing opportunity without actually supporting the goals and values of the movement. Be authentic and transparent in your marketing efforts.
- Neglecting to target a specific audience: This can result in a generic message that doesn’t stand out.
It might be worth thinking about some of these tactics when Sober October rolls around as well and we can certainly help you do this at Hatch!
Top 3 Dry Jan campaigns of 2023
With that being said, we know that numerous brands have implemented Dry January campaigns into their communication strategies. Here’s some of my favourites from this year:
Freestar – ‘Drier’ Jan
Evidently, January is a key recruitment period for alcohol-free drinks brands and is a crucial time to entice consumers to the category and create customer lifetime value.
After research revealed that 93% of alcohol-free beer drinks also drink alcohol, Freestar’s focused their key messaging on encouraging moderation over abstinence by promoting a ‘drier’ January. The brand steered clear of the ‘goody-two-shoes’ tone of voice we often see from other alcohol-free brands, acknowledging that Dry Jan participants are likely to also drink full-strength alcohol.
This honest approach contributed to a fantastic response from consumers and Freestar received an incredible +427% YOY sales increase on their website vs the same period last year.
As one of our clients at Hatch, we wanted to amplify this fantastic news by producing a bespoke press release and announcing the news to key drinks trade titles. After pitching, we secured coverage for Freestar in dream titles like The Grocer, The Drinks Business, and Independent Retail News, to name but a few.
Heineken – World’s First ‘Nommelier’
A whimsical twist on traditional sommeliers, Heineken beer launched the world’s first ‘nommelier’ service, aiming to help diners match dishes with the perfect non-alcoholic drinks.
Tactfully introduced this month to tie into Dry Jan, Heineken has teamed up with beer and wine experts, Ben MacFarland and Tom Sandham (also known as The Thinking Drinkers), to curate the first alcohol-free pairing menu, which was revealed at dining experiences in London and Edinburgh.
The surprise three-course meal included some of the pair’s favourite alcohol-free drinks to complement various popular meals.
Tito’s – DIY January with Martha Stewart
This satirical campaign from Tito’s Vodka was launched in a bid to demonstrate that their vodka can still be put to use during Dry January, even if you’re not drinking it!
Joining forces with legendary culinary writer and TV personality, Martha Stewart, the video discusses her top tips for how Tito’s vodka can be used for various household chores. For instance, we see Stewart turn a Tito’s bottle into a watering can for her plants, as well as use a 1.75-litre bottle to tenderise a large cut of meat.
The ad plays into the seemingly innocuous yet somewhat mischievous persona Stewart has built over the years, culminating in her giving up on Dry Jan with a Martini in hand. The spoof-style production and honest representation of Dry Jan is endearing and demonstrates how full-strength alcohol brands can still get involved with the trend.
Want to find out how Hatch can help your business maximise impact with consumer trends? Get in touch at email@example.com