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Portman Group launches first industry-wide Alcohol Alternatives Guidance for packaging and marketing.

Updated: Feb 11

Press release: The Portman Group

Cover page for the Portman Group Guidance note for alcohol alternatives

Today, the Portman Group launched the first industry-wide and freely available Alcohol Alternatives Guidance for packaging and marketing to help producers ensure alcohol alternative products are marketed and sold responsibly to consumers. The Portman Group’s Advisory Service will now also offer free, confidential advice to producers launching products in the category, and low-cost training to the industry will also be available. The complete guidance can be read here, and the quick read here.

  • An ‘alcohol alternative’ drink is defined as having an ABV of 0.5% or below and may have references to the absence of alcohol on the product and in its marketing. It may also share branding with an alcoholic drink or have similar packaging.

  • The new principles for responsible marketing best practice stipulate that, as products aimed squarely at adults, steps should be taken to ensure that the marketing of alcohol alternatives has no particular appeal to under-18s.

  • Marketing, which shows people driving, playing sports, or taking part in risky activities after they’ve consumed an alcohol alternative product, should make it clear they have consumed the alcohol alternative and that the intention is to show a wider range of choices for consumers.

  • On a precautionary best practice basis, the guidance recommends that marketing does not depict, or reference in copy, an alcohol alternative being consumed during pregnancy. Those who are or may be pregnant will make their own educated choices about whether they wish to drink products at 0.0%. 

The guidance also lays out five other suggestions for producers, including:

  • Making clear that the drink is at or below the threshold to be considered an alcoholic drink (0.5% ABV);

  • Not associating alcohol with social or sexual success;

  • No images of people who are, or look as if they are, under 25 years of age;

  • And the product should not cause serious or widespread offence.

The guidance comes as new YouGov research commissioned by the Portman Group found that over a third (35%) of alcohol drinkers now consider themselves an occasional or regular drinker of alcohol alternatives – rising to close to half (44%) of 18-24-year-olds. Furthermore, almost a quarter (23%) of UK drinkers have seen their alcohol consumption fall as a result of low and no alcohol products.  

Public Health Minister, Dame Andrea Leadsom, said:

“I welcome the publication of this marketing guidance for alcohol alternatives and the commitment of producers to market and sell these products responsibly to adult consumers. 

“I hope this guidance will support producers in increasing availability and visibility of alcohol alternatives for those consumers who want to moderate their alcohol consumption and improve their health.”

Matt Lambert, CEO of the Portman Group – the alcohol social responsibility body and marketing regulator, said: “We very much welcome the endorsement provided by Department for Health and Social Care for the first industry-wide and freely available alcohol alternatives guidance for packaging and marketing. As evidenced by our research, alcohol alternatives have seen a huge increase in popularity in recent years, and the Portman Group has responded by creating new marketing principles to help producers market these products responsibly.

“It is clear that consumers are gravitating to alcohol alternatives either as a moderation tool to cut down on their drinking or as part of a healthier lifestyle.

“Our new guidance aims to help producers be clear and transparent in their marketing, ensuring that information is provided to consumers when considering which products to buy.”


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