Dry January may be coming to an end, but a much larger trend appears to have taken hold: More and more young people are becoming “sober curious.”

Sober curious is a term that refers to embracing the positives of sobriety or drinking in moderation.

The notion is becoming increasingly popular, with the number of Gen Zers who plan to drink less alcohol in 2024 jumping 53% year-over-year, according to a recent survey out of consumer packaged goods marketing company NCSolutions.

In 2024, 61% of Gen Zers said they planned to reduce their alcohol intake, compared to just 40% in 2023.

Millennials are also becoming increasingly sober curious, with the survey finding that nearly half of respondents in this cohort said they planned to drink less in 2024 — a 26% year-over-year increase.

The takeaway for marketers, the authors of the report note, is that more and more young people are interested in sober curious messaging and non-alcoholic products. Notably, one-third of Gen Zers said they’d be willing to try a new beverage if it markets itself as being aligned with a sober curious lifestyle.

Of course, the sober curious movement is also establishing its own corner on TikTok, where many content creators post their journeys of either going entirely alcohol-free or simply cutting down on their booze intake.

@peacefromwithin

I am not at all anti alcohol. It just wasn’t working for me bc I started using alcohol to shift my mood & quiet my mind at the end of the day, but that’s something my body & mind can do on its own & I’m so freaking happy. #sobercurious #sobercuriousjourney #alcoholfree #alcoholfreeexperiment #day36 #boozefree #mocktails

♬ Always Alright – Alabama Shakes

What does sober curious look like?

For some people, sober curious means swapping out alcohol and hangovers for mocktails or other non-alcoholic beverages that come in fancy flavors (cucumber, peach) and contain things like hemp and ginseng to help you “blend right in at the party.”

@meltsinfusions

Click the link in my bio for liquid adaptogenic extracts that can be easily dropped into any mocktail to make it a functional mood boosting drink or stop by WHOLE FOODS to try theses brands!! Watch part 2 for my review! 🥰 #sobercurious #sobercuriousmovement #sobercuriousjourney

♬ original sound – SanazB

For others, being sober curious means they’re making serious lifestyle changes for the sake of their mental health.

“The moral of the story: You don’t have to drink every single day to have an alcohol problem,” explains TikToker Kathryn Sauser in one video. “I only drank a couple times a week and I had a serious problem with alcohol.”

Both physical and mental health are the main reasons why Gen Zers are increasingly avoiding alcohol, with 36% saying they want to stay sober for their mental health. 

However, saving money is also a top priority.

“Nonalcoholic alternatives, once a niche category, are becoming more mainstream,” NCSolutions CEO Alan Miles said in a press release. “Younger consumers are increasingly expressing a growing interest in healthier options for social drinking. Beverage brands have a real opportunity to engage and build brand loyalty with the next generation of consumers by focusing on the right combination of creative, product, placement and timing.”

Unsurprisingly, 45% of Gen Z respondents said social media was the most effective route for advertisers to reach them with sober curious messaging. About one-quarter of respondents said they have tried a non-alcoholic beverage when a celebrity or influencer suggested it.