Behind the scenes of Dry July with bars, breweries and bottled os

Sale of dry July ‘all year round’

Australia’s largest drinks retailer Endeavor Group now expects sales of non-alcoholic products at Dan Murphy’s and BWS to double each July.


“We’ve had increased activity around non-alcoholic options in our stores this month,” said Tim Carroll, Endeavor Group’s purchasing and merchandising director. “We also do a lot of in-store tastings at BWS and Dan Murphy’s across the country.”

Overall, sales in this category have increased by 150 percent over the past 24 months, and liquor stores now stock more than 300 of these products.

“Customers aren’t as driven by events like Dry July as they used to be,” Carroll said. “Instead, customers are asking for non-alcohol options year-round and for many occasions.”

Within this rapidly growing category, non-alcoholic beer is by far the most popular and mature. The chief executive of Australia’s largest independent brewer, Brick Lane Brewery, which produces cult-favorite Heaps Normal, says retailers help drive a “hugely big lift” in sales and do a lot of the in-store promotions.

“Dry July has been something of a novelty in recent years. This year is almost a turning point for me,” said Paul Bowker, CEO of Brick Lane Brewery.

Paul Bowker, CEO of Brick Lane Brewery.

Paul Bowker, CEO of Brick Lane Brewery.

“Stores didn’t have to completely reinvent themselves to bring out all this inventory and displays of non-alcoholic beer, because it’s already there… For the first time this year, it’s not really starting from scratch.”

He hopes Dry July will present an opportunity for traditional beer drinkers to transform into lifelong consumers. “These products … should be part of the drinking repertoire all year round.”

Carlton Zero is a popular non-alcoholic beer order.

Carlton Zero is a popular non-alcoholic beer order.Recognition:Paul Jeffers

Australia’s biggest beverage players are determined not to be outdone by new competitors. In the last 24 months, Lion Co has launched three non-alcoholic beers (Heineken 0.0, James Squire Zero and XXXX Zero).

“This is a demand driven by our consumers,” said Anubha Sahasrabuddhe, Lion Co. Chief Marketing Officer. “Of course, it is our responsibility and duty to serve their needs better than our competition.”

Meanwhile, Carlton & United Breweries (CUB), owned by Asahi, includes Carlton Zero, Peroni Libera and Great Northern Zero in its portfolio. Solotel’s Lacey says the top-selling non-alcoholic beers are a mix of established and new players, with Carlton Zero and Heineken 0.0 being as popular as Heaps Normal and Aboriginal-run family business Sobah.

Those in the beverage industry realized they found a way to enter a new market segment. “It gives people more opportunities to enjoy a beer,” said CUB CEO Danny Celoni.

“Imagine if we attracted new consumers to a category that was previously untapped,” said Solotel’s Lacey.

The Forgotten Story of Dry July

Though beverage vendors and makers have used Dry July as the perfect opportunity to flog their wares, few are aware of the campaign’s original philanthropic roots.

Dry July was started in 2008 by three friends – each with a connection to cancer – who decided to go without alcohol for a month with the goal of raising $3,000 for a new TV in a hospital waiting room. They ended up raising $250,000 and decided to start the Dry July Foundation.

Each year since then, “Dry July” has gained momentum — but the foundation’s goal of raising money for cancer is struggling to garner the same level of public awareness as its campaign name.


“We like to think that Dry July has played some role in this growing trend for non-alcoholic beverages,” said Dry July Foundation Campaigns and Fundraising Manager Ashleigh Oliver. A survey of 290,000 participants last year found that after attending Dry July, 80 percent intend to drink less in the future.

“[It’s] our biggest challenge is just trying to change Australians’ awareness of what we’re here to do, which is to raise money for cancer.”

That The Dry July Foundation accepts donations until August 31st. Behind the scenes of Dry July with bars, breweries and bottled os

Brian Lowry

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