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In creating its first booze-free cocktail in a can, Molson Coors asked consumers what they wanted in a temperance-minded drink and, more specifically, what they did not want.
The answer—no virgin margaritas or faux-gronis, please—led to Roxie, a line of ready-to-drink cocktail alternatives developed with seasoned mixologists and launched to coincide with the annual Dry January moderation movement.
The liquor giant, home to a raft of well-known brands including Miller Lite, Molson Canadian and Vizzy Hard Seltzer, aims to carve out its own lane in the fast-growing non-alcoholic space, according to Jamie Wideman, vice president of innovation at Molson Coors Beverage Co.
“We went pretty deep into the conversations and consumers told us, ‘I don’t want a fake cocktail—I want something different,’” Wideman told Adweek. “They don’t want to compromise just because they’re not drinking alcohol, and we don’t want them to feel like they’re in the penalty box.”
Zebra-striping Gen Z
Like many entries in the expanding category, Roxie is targeted at young consumers who may be taking part in Dry January and are likely to swap out full-strength libations for low- and no-alcohol drinks this month and beyond. (That practice is called “blending” or “zebra striping.”)
And with the Gen Z demo in mind, the new brand’s positioning is intentionally unapologetic, with taglines like “Zero Fox Given” and “100% attitude, 0% alcohol.” Marketing so far is rooted in social and digital like Facebook and Instagram, taking advantage of the current spike in popularity of canned cocktails.
The Roxie debut comes as the low- and no-alcohol category reached $3.3 billion in U.S. sales in 2021, according to NielsenIQ data compiled from retailers. IWSR projects a 31% increase in sales by 2024.
The numbers are particularly strong for 21- to 25-year-old consumers, per IWSR, where the NA category is expected to grow by 27.6% annually.
Social media, which was rife during the early days of the pandemic with “wine o’clock” and day-drinking references, has seen hubs for moderation spring up across various platforms. The #sobercurious hashtag on TikTok, for instance, has logged 364 million views, and there are expanding communities on subreddits like r/stopdrinking.
‘Not just fruity tooty’
Roxie, a collaboration with LA Libations that comes in three flavors, will be sold exclusively in the direct-to-consumer channel initially, Wideman said, with potential to later tap into the powerful Molson Coors distribution network per consumer response.
The drinks—Ripe with Passionfruit, Forbidden Pineapple and Lost in Mango—are made with carbonated water, cane sugar, fruit juice and concentrates, along with botanicals and spices like lemongrass and cardamon.
“Taste is very important to us,” Wideman said. “We wanted to deliver on layered flavors and make sure it felt like a craft cocktail that’s vibrant and complex. It’s not just a fruity tooty drink.”
Yet its “use occasions” like happy hours and parties mirror both alcohol and liquor alternatives such as Seedlip and Ritual Zero Proof, per Wideman, and the marketer sees Roxie as a complement to its existing lineup, which includes low- and no-alcohol beers.
“Consumer behavior is shifting, the lines are blurring and people are looking for more choices,” Wideman said. “It’s important for us to have an inclusive portfolio and invite more people in with accessible options.”