Boisson, a company that would have been unthinkable less than a decade ago, is rapidly establishing itself as a significant player in the burgeoning non-alcoholic drinks market in the United States. Founded by Nick Bodkins and Barrie Arnold in the heart of one of the booziest places on the planet, New York City, in 2021, its unique platform of an alcohol-free liquor store immediately found fans.
Riding the tide of interest in healthier lifestyles and beverages that emerged from the pandemic, Boisson was ideally situated to act as a gatekeeper of taste for a curious public thirsty for change. According to IWSR data in 2022, the sales of non- and low-alcoholic beverages grew by +7% in volume across ten key global markets. That growth saw the market value of no/low alcohol products surpass $11 billion in 2022, up from an already impressive $8 billion in 2018.
Boisson’s recently announced partnerships with KeHe and LibDib, two industry leaders in on-premise and off-premise beverage distribution, positions the retailer to become a national wholesaler. Freed from the traditional patchwork of alcohol beverage regulations that encumber any newcomer in the alcohol space, Boisson and their no/low alcohol catalog are aiming for a much larger slice of the retail pie.
“I keep telling people this isn’t a flash in the pan or a fad. Instead, what we are seeing is that the non-alcohol market is here to stay. It is something that people are looking for to supplement their regular alcoholic drinks,” says Bodkins, the president of Boisson. “Retailers and on-premises locations should pay attention to this category. Many of our customers are people who look for premium beverages when they drink alcohol and want to have an elevated drink when they want to step back. The latest Nielsen data shows that one in eight customers over 45 and one in four under 45 are asking for NA options when they go out.”
Part of Boisson’s success has been its multilayered approach to introducing the concept of high-quality, non-alcoholic beverages to consumers. Starting with their first retail location in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill neighborhood, they have expanded to five locations across NYC, alongside two in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco. Their newest outpost will open in Miami in early 2024.
While they have expanded their brick-and-mortar operations, they have also invested heavily in building a direct-to-consumer platform that ships products to the entire United States. Their growth is being noticed as evidenced by their recent $5 million bridge funding round from Convivialité Ventures, the VC arm of global alcohol powerhouse Pernod Richard and Connect Ventures. That funding helped the retailer move more directly into the national distribution space.
Using the data they have gained from their stores and online platform, the retailer is looking to take their expertise directly to a broader array of venues in the market. National retailers, grocery stores, bottle shops, entertainment venues, and bars and restaurants are targets for Boisson with their new distribution networks. The company sees itself as an invaluable component in the growth of the non-alcoholic space.
“Existing spirits and beer distributor networks are phenomenal – I worked for one of the best for almost a decade – but most are just starting to figure out NA, while Boisson brings years of 100% dedication to the category,” said Jill Sites, vice president of Boisson wholesale. “It is what we do, what we are passionate about, and what we want to grow. We know that we are small, but we are mighty, and we see this as the perfect moment to give NA a seat at the big table of industry wholesale distribution.”
Given that many in the liquor industry only see the non/low alcohol space growing in the coming years, according to IWSR, they expect growth to increase by a third by 2026. Boisson is positioned to be at the forefront as the leader of a category that barely existed not long ago. Who knows how big they can become?