#259 – The Alcohol-Free Market with Dr Emily Nicholls


Veronica meets Dr. Emily Nicholls to discuss the no- and low-alcohol market, the deliberate blurring of marketing by alcohol companies, and whether the alcohol-free market is a good or bad thing.

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about this episode

In my 20+ years of being sober, I’ve witnessed the transformation of the alcohol-free market. Gone are the days when your only option was the lonely, dusty bottle of Beck’s Blue at the back of the bar. Now, the market has exploded, and consumers have a wide range of no- and low-alcohol products to choose from.

Recently, someone sent me Dr. Emily Nicholls’ research on the topic of no- and low-alcohol products, and my interest in the topic was piqued. Today, she’s joining me to discuss what she’s uncovered in her research, and we explore the reasons behind the growing trend of reduced alcohol consumption among young people and the problematic marketing strategies for non-alcoholic beverages.

Dr Emily Nicholls is a Lecturer in Sociology at the University of York, UK. Her research interests include gender, identity, and alcohol consumption. Emily’s research has spanned different areas of drinking and non-drinking over the last ten years, from the ‘girls’ night out’ to drinking patterns and practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has also undertaken research into women’s experiences of early sobriety and, more recently, the ways in which ‘No and Low’ alcohol drinks are marketed and used by both drinkers and non-drinkers.

In today’s conversation, Dr. Nicholls and I talk about:

  • Emily’s research into the growth of the no- and low-alcohol market in the UK
  • How Emily developed an interest in sobriety and gender studies
  • The increasing availability of no- and low-alcohol products
  • Differences between the drinking culture in England and America
  • Factors contributing to the decrease in drinking rates among young people
  • Marketing and consumption of no- and low-alcohol products
  • Definition and impact of low alcohol products
  • How the blurred lines between alcohol and no- and low-alcohol affect people in recovery
  • Marketing strategies, including the use of shared branding and stealth marketing tactics
  • Psychological effects of no- and low-alcohol products
  • Policy recommendations for stricter marketing regulations and clearer labeling of no- and low-alcohol products.
  • Future research on non-consumption
  • My take on the increasing popularity of no- and low-alcohol products and how they are marketed
  • Gendered marketing and consumer hook strategies tactics in the alcohol industry

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