Pi Attitude Zone: Self-Gratification

The Imam Says To Talk About It Over A Beer

To beer drinkers, the concept of non-alcoholic beer might seem self-contradictory and almost nonsensical, like a car with square wheels.  Yet the world now drinks well over two billion liters of alcohol-free beer annually.  Worldwide sales are doubling every six years.

The teetotal markets of the Middle East account for around one third of non-alcoholic beer sales, and rising.  Consumption in Iran, for instance, has more than quadrupled since 2007.  Iranians’ favorite brew is the Delster brand from domestic brewer Behnoush, which gave up making the alcoholic version after the 1979 Islamic revolution that ousted the Shah. 

Brands abound across the region.  Aujun, a Saudi brewer, upholds the alcohol-free pledge with its Barbican brew.  Teetotal Lebanese sip their Laziza brand.  The Palestinians have Taybeh, which launched a ‘Halal’ beer soon after the Islamist Hamas movement took over the running of Gaza in their landslide election victory of 2005.  Not surprisingly, International brewers have also been getting in on the act.  Carlsberg virtuously markets its Moussy brand across the Middle East.  Heineken snapped up Egypt’s Al-Ahram Beverages, which markets the ‘sin-free’ Fayrouz and Birrell brands alongside more ‘secular’ alcoholic beers. 

What’s the attraction of non-alcoholic beer?  In the Middle East, consumer aspiration has much to do with it.  Breweries that used to sell their products mainly for home consumption are finding a market in bars and restaurants catering to a glamorous, image-focused new clientele.  There is a popular desire in ascendance across Middle-Eastern cultures for a ‘global lifestyle’ which goes far beyond just sipping Coca-Cola.  The fact that these religion-compliant brews are local brands is a positive signal for those seeking to project a new self-image.  Moussy, for instance, aims its advertising at trendy young drinkers of both sexes, with ads showing mixed groups enjoying their product at swanky beach resorts.

Will the trend continue upwards?  Some in the industry worry that the Arab Spring movement and the moral backlash that followed it will be bad news for any product associated with Western decadence, whether alcoholic or not.  Others point to the resurgence of religiosity across the region as a solid platform for building alcohol-free beverage sales.

Pi says:  this brew is far from toxic...

Zone: Self-Gratification Country: Middle East / Africa Product – Consumer Products