Sobriety, St. Patrick’s Day and Sales in the U.S.

“Everyone is Irish” and preparing for the yearly showdown of green beer and Irish Whiskey, but with everyone now staying home due to Coronavirus concerns, there seems to be little to celebrate. Planning ahead for next year, when restaurants, clubs and bars will, once again, roll in the money – smart brands will do well to note Sober St. Paddy’s Day as a new, niche segment to plan for!

Consumer Spending on St Patrick’s Day

The National Retail Federation compiles St Paddy’s Day spending each year, and were predicting a significant uptick in spending. Though again, this will certainly change, as the Coronavirus (Covid19) is spreading fear and leading to parade cancellations:


Typically, according to Much Needed, a whopping 41% would have been spent on beverages, second only to food coming in at 50%. Wallet Hub put together a nifty infographic that shows in 2019, on St. Patrick’s Day alone, beer sales rose by 174%, and whiskey sales by 153%. It’s clear this Irish holiday pays.

But where does this sober niche come in? And how will they be celebrating?

A Sober Saint Patrick’s

Competing with and complementing St. Patrick’s Day is another holiday, Sober 17th. It’s still St. Patrick’s Day, but without the libations.

Sober 17th is celebrated all over the world, and its goal is to take the emphasis off binge drinking and focus on family friendly offerings, such as live music, games and dancing. It is a safe celebration for those in recovery as well, a way for them to get in on the action without having to fall back into dangerous habits.

However, it’s not just those in recovery. Overall, Sobriety is on the rise. Consumers are expressing a growing interest, which we see spiking as this traditionally alcohol-infused day approaches:


Exploring the fluctuation summary on one of the days showing a spike in mentions, we see one of many reasons why:


And exploring Top Emotions, we get a solid sense of the conversations that consumers are having. And beyond the surface level word cloud, brands can click through to see what is being said specifically. What is “better” about Sober St Patrick’s Day? Here are some sound bites:


But wait again – it’s not just “sober” people out there looking for you, there’s a huge “sober curious” market to explore.

Capturing the “Sober Curious” Market

Largely lead by the 20 somethings, the sober curious movement is gaining traction:


Following those too old to care and too young to be legal, the 18-24 crowd is pretty keen on the “sober” idea.


Millennials and Generation Z, with a combined total of 162 million in population, these two generations make up the bulk of spending on St. Patrick’s Day, according to NRF.


And maybe that’s why 2019 Beer sales were flat, if not down, according to Forbes magazine, while Na (non-alcoholic) beer saw growth by 23%. This is expected to soar throughout the year, with Entrepreneur declaring 2020 The Year of the NA Beer:


Going along with this new trend, are our old friends, the Spirits. Though traditional liquor isn’t seeing as much of a decline, new alcohol-free libations such as Seedlip (NA Gin) are seeing great success due to the demand of healthier drink options, it is not only alcohol free, but sugar free and gluten free. That’s 3 health buzzwords wrapped in one delicious drink.  This is a win for the sober nation.

Wine is not immune to the decline in sales . A quick search in quid and the loss is felt in wine country too. One article stood out’ “Saving Wine from the Sober Generation”.


All of this leaves a world of opportunities available for nimble brands prepared to pivot and capture this young (in every sense) and emerging market.

Infusing Your Business to Entice This Crowd

As Na drinks push their way into sports events and more bars and venues, CBD and even THC infused Mocktails are hitching a ride and bringing the buzz back.


It looks as if the health conscience are trying new ways to feel the buzz without the hit to their liver. Cannabis, recognized for its medicinal qualities, is finding its way into many products, from face wash to salves and coffee, it should be no surprise that its next destination would be our beverages.


To add to this, more bars are hosting sober nights, creating more opportunities to draw in a demographic of people and their wallets that would otherwise pass them by.

The sober-minded may not be drinking their green beer but they still want to have the bar experience. They want to mingle and socialize, and they still want to spend money on fancy drinks. They want to indulge and not feel pressured to drink alcohol while doing it. And brands offering these opportunities, in any fashion, will experience the luck of the Irish next St Paddy’s Day!

Reach out and we’ll show you how to identify trends others are missing in your category, and lucrative niches hungry for attention.

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