Dry January moves beyond a fad

Ella Baynes

Mon 6th Feb 2023


With the beginning of the new year, many shoppers embraced the tradition of resolutions.

For many, the post-Christmas period represents a chance to transition to an alcohol free January. This year’s ‘Dry January’, however, strayed from the traditional message of sacrifice and discipline. Instead, shoppers saw retailers reframe Dry January as a choice that easily integrates into their lifestyle.

In our recent Shopper Panel research, only 7% of shoppers reported partaking in Dry January. However, over a third said they were aiming to drink less frequently. Similar to other New Year commitments, Dry January was framed as a wellness exercise as opposed to a sacrificial new year’s commitment.

Generally, this is a period of cost conscious spending that was exuberated by our current economic conditions. 75% of those surveyed looked for extra ways to save money in January. With many facing the New Year with an obvious amount of scepticism and concern, retailers’ tailored their campaigns to this shift.

Heineken 2023 versus 2022 campaign

An excellent example of this can be seen in Heinken’s 2023 Dry January campaign. Their 2022 strategy placed huge emphasis on restriction. Less and fresh were the major characteristics for a Heineken consumer. This year, they took a drastically different approach. Restriction was replaced by ease, as their campaign focused on the beer fitting into the consumer’s pre-existing lifestyle. The gym background (subtly reminding the viewer of their new year’s commitments) was swapped for a suave suit (starting the new year with celebration as opposed to sacrifice). Their 2022 consumer was to use alcohol free to change their lifestyle whereas this year’s consumer was encouraged to maintain their lifestyle perks. This transition was neatly summarised in the new hashtag; Now you can. With a willingness to completely disregard (and potentially contradict) their previous campaign, Heineken reflects many brands’ conscious decision to drop faddish resolution language.

Heineken 2023
Heineken 2022

Heineken was not unique in this change in tactics. Lucky Saint was announced as the official sponsors for Dry January for 2023. This was accompanied with the company’s biggest ever marketing push after a £10m investment. This also coincided with the major announcement that the brand will be opening its own (majority) alcohol free pub in London.

Article: Secret London

Major supermarkets were also part of this shift, with retailers like ASDA making no and low a major feature of their January online marketing push. The website widens it’s consumer base as it offers options for shoppers  ‘cutting down on alcohol after the festivities’ or ‘making a longer term lifestyle change’. Although subtle, it’s an important change in language as it reflects the growth of the sober curious consumer.

ASDA 2023 no and low

Consumers have seen huge similarities between Dry January and other New Year, New You events, such as Veganuary. Both events have been tailored to the consumer of 2023, prioritising values of cost effectiveness and health conscious purchases. Additionally, if Lucky Saint’s alcohol free pub can tell retailers anything, it is that no and low alcohol represents a lifestyle that is growing in popularity as opposed to a limiting four week detox.

Our full New Year, New You review is available on Savvy’s Insight Hub.