How DRY have ridden the growth of the sober curious movement

Low and no alcohol drinks are having a moment in the US. Here's how DRY have used Attest to understand the new opportunity.

Founded by Sharelle Klaus, 15 years ago, DRY was a brand ahead of its time; created to elevate the art of non-alcoholic celebratory drinks with sophisticated, crafted options. Finally, the market is now catching up. 

Growth of the sober curious movement and a burgeoning low and no alcohol drinks segment stateside has changed the game, and, in this case study, we’ll look at how DRY have used Attest to understand the new opportunity.

Chief Revenue Officer, Betsy Frost says the company is going through a “second wave of start-up” after rebranding their core product from Dry Sparkling Soda to Dry Botanical Bubbly and ramping up their focus on direct-to-consumer sales (D2C).

“After our initial growth curve, we have relaunched under our brand purpose, social drinking for everyone,” she says. 

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While the US is still some way behind places like the UK in terms of market maturity, the interest in non-alcoholic beverages has reached a tipping point.

“When Sharelle started the company, the conversation around zero-proof was largely around recovery and pregnancy. Today, people are either drinking less or walking away from alcohol altogether as part of their health and wellness routines. But they don’t want to give up the ritual of social drinking and are looking for things that are interesting, sophisticated and fun. We are now seeing all kinds of offerings enter the market, which is exciting for everyone.”

Unfortunately, the change in tide came at a time when traditional routes to market were disrupted. Pub and bar closures due to coronavirus meant that manufacturers had to switch from on-premise to off-premise and seek out retail placements. This isn’t an easy pivot, but alongside the challenge came an opportunity – new demand online.

“Emerging brands that were planning 2019/2020 launches pivoted to the digital space as their core route to market quickly,” Frost says. “And with sober curious consumers connecting over Instagram, an efficient marketplace has quickly emerged.”

DRY have leveraged the increased demand to grow their D2C offering, while also benefiting from a national retailer footprint, established over the last 15 years. This has put DRY several steps ahead of their competitors, but the company are now seeking to push the whole sector forward by joining forces with other low and no alcohol brands.  

“We have national distribution in a category that is emerging so we’re trying to create a new category space. We’re building a collation so we can go in and do it together because there’s really no place for any of this to land in-store at the moment.”

Innovating in zero-proof

DRY D2C

As innovation in the craft non-alcoholic beverage space has exploded, DRY continue to innovate on what zero-proof can deliver. 

Frost and her team have been innovating to expand DRY’s product range and used Attest to help refine their first launch of DRY Botanical Bitters & Soda. 

“The first inspiration came from our own team’s behavior and home experimentation and we heard the need for more interesting, less sweet options from a lot of our friends and fans,” Frost explains. “But, we needed better intuition if the job we were trying to do was being translated in the first moment of truth.”

Frost, who was previously a marketing director at General Mills, adds that Attest has helped them to navigate challenges presented by the pandemic during the product development process.  

“Our original plan was to demo the product in store and at some bars and tasting rooms where people are drinking or looking for alternatives, to try and buy, but we can’t do any of that right now.” 

Instead, DRY worked with small focus groups and then used Attest to validate the findings on a larger scale. Frost terms the research method “quasi-quant” because the quantitative stats are grounded in qualitative research. 

“I’ve been using Attest to get gut, first moment of truth, reactions to concepts and to expand my sample sizes,” she says. “I’ve been doing in-depth focus groups with people, showing them the shelf set, seeing what they see, understanding where the brand is versus other brands, and then using Attest.”

“It gives me a larger sample size of a random group of people to see if what I am getting on a micro-level holds or highlight gaps or warning signs in the feedback from a smaller, tip of the spear group. The directional look from Attest has also helped me come up with areas to dig deeper in qualitative conversations or refocus. For example, if I see 65% of people who highly like this product concept are men and my early interviews were primarily with women, I wanted to make sure that I was getting input from the right people.”

Insight when you need it

According to Frost, she had a “high need” for insights when DRY signed up with Attest. At General Mills, she worked alongside a team of consumer researchers, but now that she doesn’t have those resources, getting data is more of a challenge. Frost has tried other self-service research tools but says Attest has several advantages.

“The Attest interface is fast and makes creating and analyzing surveys and pulses easier than other tools I have used. I can field and get results back within eight hours and the variety of marketing research templates and direct analyst support has also been very helpful. On the backend, it is easy to filter by question, segment audiences and find insights directly in the tool.”   

DRY botanical bubbly

The real-time nature of the platform has enabled her to bring up-to-date insights into recent meetings with retail stockists: “The week before a meeting with one of our most important customers, we wanted to bring something more to the table. I was able to use the platform to directly reach their shoppers and bring in new, actionable data to the conversation.”

Looking ahead, Frost plans to use Attest for message testing and continued innovation work. Following DRY’s rebrand, she’s keen to see if the brand’s original customer base understands the new direction and how to best drive new penetration. 

“Over the past year, we have seen the consumer and the zero-proof marketplace evolve rapidly. There are multiple non-alcoholic spirits, beers and ready to drink options that have just launched in the last 24 months and consumers’ adoption of alcohol alternatives has accelerated.

“What started as a sober curious trend, has moved to something I might just incorporate as an alternative for tonight and we need to make sure that we continue to stay close to how people respond and are inspired by the category.”  

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Bel Booker

Senior Content Writer 

Bel has a background in newspaper and magazine journalism but loves to geek-out with Attest consumer data to write in-depth reports. Inherently nosy, she's endlessly excited to pose questions to Attest's audience of 100m global consumers. She also likes cake.

See all articles by Bel