Common ground: Dry January® and the hospitality sector

Richard Piper, CEO, Alcohol Change UK | November 2022 | 8 minutes

It's been an incredibly tough time for the hospitality sector over the past few years and the challenges continue with inflation causing rising costs and less disposable income. Some might think that Dry January® is part of the problem, but in reality it’s an opportunity to reach more customers.

As one of the UK’s most successful programmes for reducing alcohol harm amongst heavier drinkers, Alcohol Change UK’s Dry January® is something that any responsible licensee will want to be seen to support.

Last year, almost 8 million people said they were planning to have an alcohol-free January. That's a huge one in seven of all UK adults. And year-round at least 20% of UK adults don’t consume alcohol at all, a figure that’s growing year-on-year as society changes. So, being Dry January®-friendly and fully welcoming to non-drinkers all year round significantly widens the market and customer-base, which is important to the long-term survival of pubs, bars, restaurants and clubs.

Here are three top tips for how hospitality venues can make the most of the Dry January® opportunity by providing a genuinely welcoming space for those who aren’t drinking alcohol, for whatever reason.

And don’t forget that the phrase ‘Dry January®’ is a registered trademark of Alcohol Change UK. You can use it freely to promote the Try Dry® app, which is how people take on the Dry January® challenge. Or if you’d like to become a 'Dry January-friendly' venue, please email [email protected] to receive authorisation and unlock your free assets. Any other usage of the phrase ‘Dry January®’ without permission is unauthorised.

Top tips:

1. Offer a variety of high-quality alcohol-free alternative: With the alcohol-free adult drink sector booming, there's never been a better time to offer grown-up alternatives. Offering just soft drinks or a single alcohol-free lager just isn’t enough. You’re aiming to meet the needs of adults with sophisticated tastes, who really enjoy the taste of beer, wine and spirits but don’t want or need the alcohol. Offer at least the following: one ale, one lager, a red and a white wine (there are single serve bottles available which reduce waste), and a selection of the main spirits or mocktails. In particular, look out for Lucky Saint, the Official Beer of Dry January® and an excellent product (also on draught); Lyre’s, the Official Wine and Spirit of Dry January® which has a stunning range of alcohol-free spirits, ready to drink mixed cans and prosecco; and Mocktails, the Official Cocktails of Dry January® which has a brilliant selection of ready to drink cocktails, saving time for your team without sacrificing quality. The Alcohol Change UK website has hundreds of reviews of the best alcohol-free wines, beers, ciders and spirits on the market. Check them out and become the ‘go to’ local establishment for alcohol-free drinkers.

2. Dry January® isn't about staying in: Remind people that taking part in Dry January® doesn't mean you have to stay home. Help them enjoy an alcohol-free night out by promoting your non-alcoholic menu online and throughout your venue so that people know there are some great alcohol-free options available to them to try. Ensure all your team members are trained to be positive and supportive about Dry January® and know how to help those customers who are looking for an alcohol-free evening, without any judgement or negativity.

3. Offer discounts or incentives for those doing Dry January®: whether it's a free alcohol-free drink or a discount for their meal, offering an incentive to those doing Dry January® is likely to be a great hit and drive footfall. To be sure they’ve signed up, ask them to show you their welcome Dry January® email from Alcohol Change UK. We can provide a QR code for you to keep behind the bar to encourage people to register. It's a win, win for all!

With January being such a tough month for hospitality venues, it's time to try something different. Pubs, bars, restaurants and clubs can offer people joy and relaxation in these challenging times and we don’t want that to change.

Dry January® isn't about stopping drinking forever. It's about getting out and learning that alcohol is optional, not essential, to having fun, relaxing, or coping with life’s challenges. Our free Dry January® programme includes the Try Dry® app, our daily motivational emails and a vibrant online community. It gives heavier drinkers the opportunity to reset their relationship with alcohol and to get their drinking back under control – the cornerstone of responsible alcohol retail. So there really is common ground between the hospitality sector and Dry January®.

Come on board and give it a try.

Dry January®. Are you in?

We'd be delighted to share more ideas and some great free resources to help you provide an even warmer welcome to those taking part in Dry January®. Interested?

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