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The joy of missing out: top tips for brands planning activity around Dry January


By Hannah Bowler | Senior Reporter

October 31, 2023 | 9 min read

As we come to the end of Sober October, low- and no-alcohol brands are now busy finalizing their plans for January’s month-long abstinence push. We catch up with the marketer behind alcohol-free subscription box Jomo Club to hear about her dos and don’ts.

Dry January is still a key month in the alcohol-free calendar

Dry January is still a key month in the alcohol-free calendar

The moderation trend is showing no signs of slowing, with the low- and no-alcohol category booming in recent years. Despite moderation increasingly becoming part of people’s everyday lifestyles, the month of January still plays a crucial part in recruiting drinkers into moderation.

Below, Gemma Mills, the founder of the alcohol-free subscription brand Jomo (Joy of Missing Out) Club, gives The Drum the inside scoop on her Dry January marketing plan.

Logistics prep: ”As we prepare for Dry January, we have made a few logistical changes in advance to cope with demand. For Sober October, we had to make the difficult decision to pause our ad campaign given the success as we couldn’t keep up with the demand – customer service and quick delivery are important for us and also our customer retention. Learning from this, packaging will now be outsourced along with other logistical updates.”

Influencers: ”As it becomes more normalized to not drink, celebrities and influencers begin to speak out about their decisions and experiences. We will send Jomo boxes to micro-influencers to get our brand in front of the right audience. Although it doesn’t always attribute to direct sales we can track, we feel as a leader in the alcohol-free movement, it is important to drive this conversation and to normalize it on social media.

”In the past several months, we have had a few actors take an interest in Jomo Club after announcing their sobriety and this has led to some exciting publicity, meaningful partnerships and a few exciting things we can launch in January.”

Paid ads: ”This strategy has got some negative press recently. People we speak with warn us away from social ads; however, paid ads proved to be successful for us during Sober October and is an activation we will drive throughout Dry January. We focus on video content primarily, one a video testimonial from Bessie Carter and one a video unboxing for visualization.”

Sampling: ”We will be ramping up our sampling for Dry January in both large events and smaller pop-ups such as gyms, corporates and groups. With consumers still being slightly wary of alcohol-free options given some of the poor quality choices that existed a few years back and some of the poor options being showcased in supermarkets, restaurants and bars, we find consumers respond extremely well to trying the innovative options out there they didn’t even know existed. We are also finding corporates are embracing alcohol-free activities more than ever – it’s inclusive and supports health and wellbeing along with productivity.”

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And here are Mills’s Do’s and Don’ts for Dry January


1. Identify your audience: ”Dry January is a great opportunity to reach new people and potential customers who will be taking on the month of sobriety. January, however, is not where it ends. More people are now using these months of sobriety to understand their relationship with alcohol and, therefore, may moderate or abstain from alcohol moving forward for the rest of the year. Reaching the right people is crucial to not only win new customers but also to win loyal ones.”

2. Messaging: ”Understand the drivers for your customers. Not drinking is still slightly taboo and, despite behaviors and mindsets changing, there is still social pressure to drink. Including the right messaging for a Dry January campaign can have the power to speak to your audience in a relatable, non-judgemental way. It can also have the power to imprint in your customers’ minds so they will go on to bang the alcohol-free drum to their friends. Historically, the conversation around not drinking has been around alcoholism, dependency and being ‘boring.’ We are now seeing the conversation change to focusing on mental and physical health, along with productivity and motivation. This message is one we can all support and one that is far easier to talk about.”

3. Offers: ”Proceed with caution, but this can be a super powerful tool, especially around arguably the biggest dry event of the year. Offers need to be carefully thought about as you don’t want to undervalue or cheapen your product, but can be a great way to get the product on lips and win loyal customers, especially as the alcohol-free market grows and becomes more crowded. If you aren’t keen on offers, value adds are extremely valuable. For example, buy one bottle of alcohol-free spirit, get a pack of mixers included.”

4. Use AI: ”If you don’t use it, others will. Play around with it, brainstorm with it, innovate with it, it can come up with some pretty interesting things, just make sure you proof everything so it aligns with your core messaging and strategy.”


1. Follow the crowd: ”Marketing is, of course, all about standing out from the crowd. The alcohol-free market is in an extremely exciting time where it is still in its infancy, relatively speaking, but there is more demand than ever for alcohol-free and that doesn’t look like it’s slowing down. Now is the perfect opportunity to have fun with your marketing.

”Let’s take Lucky Saint as an example. It led a stand-out campaign on the tube of a nun sipping one of its alcohol-free beers, focusing on giving into temptation. This came at the same time as its pub launch in London, The Lucky Saint. Pentire is another example that formed a strong brand and loyal following among the outdoors lovers. Made in Cornwall, its messaging is around seizing the day, getting outside and living life to the fullest by enjoying its G&T or Aperol alternatives on the go.

”This month may also be a good time to be controversial or sarcastic in our messaging about our beliefs and slightly absurd social behaviors around not drinking. This again must be carefully managed given the sector.”

2. Email communication: ”Dry January is a fantastic time to grow and reach new and existing customers. It does, however, mean everyone wants to jump on the Dry January bandwagon and consumers will be hit with a lot of Dry January content. Make sure you stand out so you don’t become white noise with all the other buzz going on. Big brands can often win eyes as the name is known. Make sure your emails aren’t being immediately deleted and think of what your customers’ emails must look like. Dare to be different.”

Final note

”Now is an exciting time for the alcohol-free sector. Mindsets are changing and alcohol-free drinks sales are growing faster than any other category in F&B. Dare to be different, focus on your target audience and core brand messaging and use Dry January as a way to drive customer loyalty.”

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