Keep drinking? NOPE wants to be part of your sobriety
As Dry January ends, many people will continue to drink less alcohol or not drink alcohol. Beth Ann Shaeffer wants NOPE to be part of it.
Since its debut in late 2020, this non-alcoholic canned cocktail brand has grown 500%, says Shaeffer.
“No other brand evokes the mistakes we may have made once. Want to drunkenly text an ex? NO. Professing your love to a stranger? NO. Wake up to a misspelled tattoo? NO,” Shaeffer said, “We’ve all been there before, but do we want to go back? NO.”
The brand itself proclaims its message not to drink boldly, with “bright and disruptive packaging,” says Shaeffer. “During the formulation, we knew we were preparing for the boom that was going to happen in the non-alcoholic space,” she says. “It’s here, and we’re ready. We expect our brand to continue to thrive this year as we enter new distribution channels and expand our marketing. »
Approximately 90% of NOPE users are women, with 42% in the 25-34 age group and 37% in the 35-44 age group. “Some people choose not to drink alcohol because they are recovering, and others because they are pregnant or have other health reasons, but most choose NOPE because they are looking to reduce their drinking,” says Shaeffer. “They can have a big week at work or training for a marathon or they realize they don’t feel well the next day. That doesn’t mean they never drink alcohol, but they do want options.
Sales of soft drinks rose 33% to $331 million last year, according to Nielsen. These products have done particularly well in e-commerce, growing 315% over the same period.
“People aren’t necessarily trying to blend in or hide the fact that they’re not drinking,” Shaeffer says. “NOPE is fun, and not drinking is also fun.”
Shaeffer started the brand in her kitchen when her ex-husband – who she is still very good friends with – got sober. “I didn’t want him to feel left out at the celebrations,” she said.
These drinks took a long time to prepare, as Shaeffer used whole fruits and juices, and his blender was well used. Three years ago, on Christmas Eve, Shaeffer was cleaning up the mess in her kitchen after making delicious mocktails for her ex-husband, but the two still had five kids to bed and presents to wrap. The mess was so annoying that she jokingly said “I’m going to can this.” This offhand comment led her to work with a formulator and then produce her first batch in 2020.
Her ready-to-drink fizzy cocktails are made with the same natural fruits and herbs she used to create them in her kitchen. NOPE currently offers a line of four flavors including: Strawberry Basil Smash, Rosemary Vanilla Lemonade, Lime Raspberry Ginger Beer, and Mango Margarita with Jalapeño. The Mango Margarita with Jalapeño is her best-selling cocktail.
“The flavors are relatable — these are things we might see at the grocery store, and combinations we wish we had time to mix or make, but we just don’t have the time,” Shaeffer says.
“The variety pack is a best seller here, and it’s been hard to keep the mango margarita on the shelves,” says Emily Hentz, owner of Sèchey in Charlestown, SC.
NOPE started with direct-to-consumer sales, and Shaeffer did all of its distribution itself. Now NOPE has wholesale distribution with a KeHE partnership, and NOPE has hired brand managers, a digital marketing company, a finance manager, and a social media manager. In 2021, NOPE was declared one of the top five emerging brands of the year and the top two for customer votes in the new BeNET beverage showdown. “When I started, it was just me,” Shaeffer says. “This is just the beginning of our expansion.”