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Thought leadership
April 13, 2022

Australia gets on the wagon: what’s driving low and no alcohol trends

The social trends and audience behind healthy drinking behaviour

While the pandemic and lockdowns made some people more likely to grab an alcoholic drink, audience interest in low alcohol or no alcohol drinks keeps growing online, both globally and in Australia. 

But what events are driving Australians towards the #sobercurious lifestyle? And which brands are piquing their interest?



According to data from our sister company Pulsar, social conversation and search interest in low-no-alcohol peaked in April ’21-Oct ’21 as the press announced a $1 million government grant (as part of the Australian Government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy) was awarded to Modus Operandi Brewery to manufacture a non-alcoholic ale, NORT. The mentions of low/no-alcohol experienced a peak in June, leading to Dry July and Sober October.

Mention metrics show that health and socialising are major motivational drivers for Australians when choosing a drink of the low/no-alcohol variety. The two are closely related, as prominent tags associated with low/no-alcohol mentions are #mindfuldrinking, #soberissexy, and #soberdating.

Meanwhile, popular millennial and gen z media outlets like Fashion Journal and Refinery29 are reporting on how-tos and the benefits of sober dating. Young Australians are reading that by avoiding the booze, their anxiety is reduced, and they are setting themselves up for relationship success.

Mental health improvements associated with the trend aren’t the only benefits being publicised; the physical gains are too. Australian media personality Erin Holland told Women’s Health Magazine that her preparation for the popular reality series SAS Australia involved a strict no-alcohol rule. Rugby union Wallaby player Radiko Samo credited a no-alcohol stance to his improved performance on the field.

The data also suggests Australians genuinely enjoy the taste of low/no-alcohol beverages followed by ethical reasons. For centuries, abstinence from alcoholic drinking has been tied to ethical beliefs, but open discussion and acknowledgment of Australia’s amoral history keep this motivator current. Aboriginal-owned and led non-alcoholic craft brewers SOBAH advocate for this and aim to break toxic Indigenous stereotypes by providing “healing opportunities outside the reliance on government funding and control.”

Globally, drinks like beer, vodka, and whiskey tend to be more popular, but Australian consumers are hitting the spirits and mixers. Non-alcoholic cocktail bars were springing up across Australian metropolitan areas like Brunswick Aces in Melbourne, giving non-drinkers a chance to socialise without feeling left out. From hotels to online delivery services, hospitality businesses connect with Aussies’ healthier lifestyle choices. In particular, small-batch distilleries and breweries utilising bush tucker flavours are getting covered in widely read hospitality and entertainment sites like Broadsheet. 

Australian-made distilleries are also proud to represent the small-batch, independent ethos which aligns with the Aussie tendency to support one-of-kind artisanal producers over big-name brands.

British and Australian brands Seedlip and Lyre’s appear as the most mentioned across media platforms between July-November 21. In the news, Aussie founded Lyres had taken out best non-alcoholic spirit for their Italian spritz at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Seedlip took out two non-alcoholic spirit awards in the Australian Drinks Awards held in November 2021.

While we might expect fitness enthusiasts to be discussing the benefits of lowering alcohol consumption online, a deep dive into the different audiences talking about low alcohol brands reveals this is a popular conversation amongst more niche subcultures.

Across twitter, discussions of non-alcohol spirits are popular amongst Australian bookworms. Popular non-alcoholic brands like Lyres and Seadrift use old-fashioned or themed storytelling as part of their branding language—an aesthetic that lets  literary lovers know they ”can enjoy the mirth and merriment of a soiree or shindig” without alcohol. This group is also keen to share with their community the book they are currently reading and a matching mocktail.

This trend continues to grow as Aussies aspire for optimal performance at work, in their social and romantic lives, and for their overall wellness. The data shows Aussies celebrating and sharing their alcohol-free experiences with their digital communities, and with the backing from the government and smaller brands taking out big awards, this trend continues to offer Australians an opportunity to get on the wagon.

Loren Botica
Loren Botica

Marketing Executive |ANZ

This blog was produced using data from our sister company 
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The state of the electric vehicle industry in Malaysia

Malaysia's automotive industry is one of the more environmentally-friendly industries. Various parties, such as the government and local automotive industry players, have continuously sought to promote electric vehicles (EVs). 

The subject of electric vehicles (EV) is growing among the Malaysian public in the social media sphere due to continuous efforts to promote EVs by various parties such as the government, local automotive industry players as well as companies directly involved in several aspects of EV (charging facilities/networks etc.)


Using data from Pulsar, Isentia analysed the conversations surrounding the topic of EV amongst Malaysia's social media users.

 

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How did discussions involving electric vehicles in Malaysia go?

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In this word bank powered by Isentia’s vast datasets, some of the most common keywords used by Malaysians when discussing EVs, apart from the topic itself, are 'drive', 'chargers', and 'battery'. EV is also associated with ‘future’ and ‘expensive’.

Across the country, social media users agreed that Malaysia is lagging behind neighbouring nations (such as Indonesia and Thailand) in EV facilities and vehicle development. They also agree that EVs are only accessible to rich people in the country because of a lack of affordable options and that the Malaysian government and other players should do more to promote electric vehicles as a practical form of transportation.

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What are the audience segments that have been talking about electric cars online?

Malaysian social media users who are more interested in electric vehicles are most interested in watching movies and TV. The three main audience segments include the Conservatives, Technology Enthusiasts, and Innovation Seekers. They are predominantly male audiences aged between 18 and 24. 

They also have high media affinity with Malaysia's prominent media outlets, such as Astro Awani, Bernama, and technology-focused outlets, such as Amanz and Digital News Asia.

 

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Conservatives follow social media accounts of mainstream news outlets and the government (ministers, ministries, agencies etc.) They believe government policies would benefit their daily lives, such as EV-related ones.

Technology enthusiasts seek out exciting posts on new technologies and actively participate in discussions surrounding them. They are advocates of technologies that would make the environment that they live in better, as well as efficient technologies.

Innovation seekers are actively sharing news and involved in conversations about innovations that enhance the development of industries relying on the newest technology. They tend to evolve their lifestyles accordingly and embrace innovations available at their disposal.

 

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What are the catalysts of EV discussions among Malaysians?

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Several points between April and July 2022 peaked due to active discussions among Malaysians on EV:

Launch of Automotive High-Tech Valley on 14 April - The launch would assist in positioning Malaysia as a hub for EV manufacturers and component suppliers to the ASEAN market.

Foxconn announced plans to build a facility in Malaysia on 19 May - Taiwanese company Foxconn plans to build a chip production facility in Malaysia with Malaysia's Dagang NeXchange Berhad to fulfil the demand for EV semiconductors.

Criticism of parking at charging facilities on 10 June - There was criticism towards road users in Malaysia who parked their vehicles at EV charging facilities.

Samsung develops plant in Malaysia on 21 June - Samsung SDI Energy Malaysia Sdn Bhd announced that they are developing a RM7 billion plant in Negeri Sembilan to pioneer the EV battery cell industry in the country.

First Range Extended EV developed in Malaysia on 21 July - Mimos Berhad has developed the first Range Extended Electric Vehicle (RE-EV) in Malaysia with the cooperation of Motosikal dan Enjin Nasional Sdn Bhd (Modenas) and Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP).

Get in touch with Isentia today to learn more about what consumers are saying about your brand. 

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This blog was produced using data from our sister company 
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Isentia Malaysia Case Study | Electric Vehicle (EV) Conversations in Malaysia’s Social Media Sphere
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How the recent Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code is changing the rules around skincare advertising in Australia.

What has an influencer endorsement or testimonial influenced you to buy lately? Would you have purchased it otherwise? Well, you may see less of this type of advertising in the coming years in Australia. Using Pulsar's recent report on the online conversation on sunscreen and SPF, we can understand how audience intelligence and media monitoring can help organisations direct and target their messaging and operations in response to (for example) significant regulatory changes. 

Last year the Therapeutic Goods Administration announced the release of the new Therapeutic Advertising Code that came into A pivotal reform to the code involves restrictions on testimonials and endorsements of therapeutic goods in advertising, including social media. Influencers were flurrying about how they would continue to promote therapeutic products like sunscreens, skinny teas, collagen powders and the like within Australia. 

The code allows for genuine, unpaid testimonials in advertising. Still, it prohibits influencers from making testimonials or endorsements based on their own experiences due to using a product. They can only stick to communicating the product's aims and purpose as claimed by the product's labelling and instructions. The recommendation must also align with the product's purpose, as the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods records.

So why is this happening, and how can influencers still operate under these new regulations? The TGA ensures that consumers can trust that recommendations are unbiased without the influence of incentives, including gifts. There is a further requirement for social media influencers to include mandatory statements in their advertisements depending on the type of product and its availability to the public. The TGA also highlighted that they aren't making any unusual changes but are just aligning advertising on new platforms with code that previously targeted more traditional forms of advertising.

The code requires all testimonials that are in breach to have been taken down by July 1st.

But some influencers have not taken to the new regulations well, believing the new rules will hinder a critical source of information for consumers and audiences. Australian sunscreen (Naked Sundays) owner Samantha Brett, told the Sydney Morning Herald Emerald City she believes sunscreen should be exempt from the laws asking, "How else will those who are influenced by social media, particularly Millennials who are most at risk of melanoma, be encouraged to use sunscreen every day."

On August 22nd, Got-to Skincare's founder Zoe Foster Blake posted a statement on Instagram to announce the release of a new SPF 50 sunscreen product and how the code impinges people's sun protection practices and knowledge.

“I believe elements of the code have the potential to reverse the momentum public health, cancer awareness groups, and skin specialists have been building for years to ensure Australians wear sunscreen daily”.

Foster-Blake goes on to highlight how some still find sunscreen polarising and unappealing. 

“Many consumers still believe sunscreen is gross, thick, greasy. It’s not.”

But are younger demographics, influenced by social media, confused about sunscreen use? Social discussion would say the answer is yes. Where to apply, how many times to reapply and in what settings is wearing sunscreen necessary are some questions people are asking.

Social media conversation around sunscreen is evolving and recorded by Pulsar as a therapeutic good that goes beyond a necessary use case. Sunscreen is feeling the influences of climate change activists and holistic beauty trend-setters tied to long-term health values.

@sethobrien using the recommended amount of sunscreen for the first time #skincare @cerave ♬ original sound - Sethobrien

Promoting sunscreen and daily SPF use on social media has a positive impact on long-term health and beauty maintenance and protection against skin cancers; 51.1% of Australians' reasons for applying sunscreen, as discussed in online conversation, is to protect against skin cancers.

There is still confusion around SPF levels and growing concerns around online conversation promoting misinformation that sunscreen use increases the likelihood of ailments like melanoma, reportedly one of the most common cancers in young adults.

Social media conversation and prolific posting of beauty & wellness-related content frame spaces where skincare brands can find their niche. Brands like Cerave and Supergoop are finding ways to differentiate their branding to appeal to specific communities (meet their communities in the full report). Is this new code holding social media influencers to account for their sway over masses of followers? Or is it taking away a vital information-sharing source? Time will tell if the regulations will significantly impact beauty and wellness influencer marketing in Australia. However, the effects may be taking hold now. If you look up sunscreen and SPF on tiktok, you will notice a decrease in related content since the end of 2021.

Avoid the risk of getting burnt and check the code to ensure you’re not in breach.

Discover the full report

Want to understand how therapeutic goods are driving beauty trends and changing the intersection between health and beauty? Download Pulsar’s report “Applying audience intelligence to Sunscreen”.

Contact Isentia to stay on top of media topics that impact your organisation!

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Blog
Will wellness brands need to rethink how they use and apply influencer marketing?

How the recent Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code is changing the rules around skincare advertising in Australia. What has an influencer endorsement or testimonial influenced you to buy lately? Would you have purchased it otherwise? Well, you may see less of this type of advertising in the coming years in Australia. Using Pulsar’s recent report on the online […]

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Sustainability in businesses, and where to draw the line

With consumers taking more of an interest in living a sustainable lifestyle, many companies are prompted to take steps to reduce their environmental impact and embrace sustainability.

 

However, what happens when companies make false claims that they are more sustainable than they actually are? This is where greenwashing comes in. Greenwashing is when a brand frames itself to be environmentally conscious for marketing purposes but is not making any notable sustainability efforts.

 

We analysed conversations on greenwashing among Malaysia's social media users powered by Pulsar's data.

 

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Who is involved and how did these discussions on greenwashing go?

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Our study shows that the term "greenwashing" is not as widely used when consumers call out practices that mislead the people with positive communications on environmental and sustainability practices when it is not. 

 

'Investment', 'banking', 'ESG', and 'sustainability’ are just some of the keywords most commonly used when Malaysians talk about greenwashing. 

 

Consumers tend to be sceptical and raise concerns with sustainability claims as they question the effectiveness and legitimacy of such initiatives. Some have linked such "green efforts" as a tactic for cost-cutting and even for financial gains.

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What are the audience segments that have been talking about greenwashing online?

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Malaysians talking about greenwashing online lean slightly more towards males. In terms of age group, the 18 to 24 years old have shown stronger interest in the topic. 

 

They are most interested in watching movies and TV and have high media affinity with some of the nation’s prominent media outlets such as Astro Awani, The Star, and Bernama. They tend to be sentimental, particular, and analytical.    

 

The top three audience segments we have identified talking about greenwashing are The Green Lovers, The Informers, and the Activists

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The Green Lovers who are passionate about sustainable lifestyle are highly interested in entertainment and social issues. Their choices are driven by a desire for well-being. 

 

The Informers, on the other hand, follow media outlets such as Astro Awani, The Star, and Bernama and tend to share content that concern the people with their networks. Their desire for organisation drives the choices that they make.


The Activists describe themselves as advocates for social issues. They follow political figures such as Khairy Jamaluddin, Syed Saddiq, and Hannah Yeoh. They are philosophical, authority-challenging, and empathetic.

Despite having different interests, their purchase decisions are likely to be influenced by online advertisements, brand names, and social media.

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What industries do consumers associate with greenwashing?

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Sustainable businesses are focused on continuous improvement and long-term goals. They seek to promote the health of a company and the community in which it operates while balancing these goals with the need to develop profit.

 

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However, despite efforts to campaign for sustainability and adhere to ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) standards, some industries such as banking, oil and gas, and fast fashion have been called out for greenwashing.

Consumers have also pointed out initiatives such as the RM0.20 plastic bag pollution charges by the public sector for missing the ESG mark for seemingly profiting from the use of plastic bags. 

Generally, these sectors have been criticised for failing to fulfil their 'green commitments’ adequately.

Greenwashing can be harmful to a company’s reputation in the long run. As many consumers are focusing on ‘conscious consumerism’, companies are expected to live up to their sustainability goals. 

 

Get in touch with Isentia today to learn more about what consumers are saying about your company and brand in relation to greenwashing.

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This blog was produced using data from our sister company 
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Isentia Malaysia Case Study: Exploring Malaysians’ Perception of Greenwashing
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Alert the media! Audiences are more informed than ever but can there be too much of a good thing? Experts say that the internet has democratised free speech, but when there is too much content to choose from, we're left overwhelmed, trying to escape a boundless house haunted by trolls, clickbait and conspiracy theorists.

 Isentia’s webinar, Misinformation: Stopping the Spread, brought together three expert communicators, journalists, data analysts and fighters of fake news to discuss how PR and comms professionals can best navigate misinformation.   

Follow these tips so your audiences find your communications and social media strategy is informed and reliable.

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1. Conserve public opinion that uses facts 

While the internet, including social media, can be a hub of helpful information from DIY projects, recipes and tips to fight misinformation… It's also an open platform for anyone to post and publicise anything. Pulsar CEO and Cofounder Fran D'Orazio encourages comms professionals to promote public opinion that's built on a contextually rich foundation so that the everyday scroller sees more than a title and a tagline. 

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2. Call out misinformation, even your own

Content creator @sydneyraz, known for his "things to know before you're in your 30s" content, corrected his misinformation post from 2021, where he said you could store your avocados in water to stop them browning. Reputable news outlets, food experts and the FDA responded to his original post, saying this avo hack could actually put you at risk of salmonella and listeria poisoning. Unless misinformation is called out and unreliable content is debunked, media consumers will struggle to know what is correct and who to trust.

3. Seek out the experts

If your misinformation senses are tingling, don't hesitate to send content and questions to groups with expertise in this area. Initiatives like RMIT Factlab and The Disinformation Project investigate misinformation on media platforms. RMIT Factlab takes misinformation Meta has identified, and then fact checks it. They then write an article, post it on their site, and provide it to Meta, who attaches the URL to the original fake news post - offering the opportunity for people to read the truth first. Throughout this process, Meta, using its algorithms, downgrades fake news, so it's not seen as often. "It is better to work with them [Meta], so some misinformation is downgraded, rather than not having a relationship with them," says Sushi Das, Assistant Director of RMIT Factlab. 

4. Share truth

Kate-Hannah of the Disinformation Project recommends equipping people with tools like counterspeech to use in discourse spaces. Think about how stories and fact-checking tools can divert a negative conversation and direct it onto the main issue or reveal more context. Empathy, humour and reminding perpetrators of ill-informed public messaging of the consequences to spreading hate or dangerous speech, are some communication strategies to use.

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5. Ensure a source is reliable 

"Everybody is sort of a publisher now," says Sushi Das. We all deserve to feel like we're in a safe space, but the ungovernable realm of the online world puts safety into question. We are all tapping into our smart devices for news content but the key is having high standards of the publishers and creators whose content you consume. Traditional media is still held to account with regulations to follow and trained journalists on staff - posing a strong force against misinformation. With standards, regulations and trained journalists, their outputs are a strong force against exposure to misinformation. The moment a news story goes online, the context is at risk of being blurred, whether a filter is used or not.

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[embed width="1080" height="450"]https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/10098209[embed]

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6. Bring context into the mix

What does context look like in a world still learning to understand the vague guidelines governing online spaces? The devil truly is in the details or the lack of them. Pulsar's recent partnership with Newsguard, "the Internet's trust tool," helps them rate outlets producing news content based on such specific details: their standards of accountability, do they gather info responsibly, and correct their own errors? The results contribute to a credibility score. Data powered by Pulsar show which brands are most susceptible to having misinformation about them distributed online - showing that every sector is vulnerable.

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7. Consider framing

There are multiple ways to frame a conversation or narrative. Kate-Hannah says, "there is a responsibility to tell the truth, but in ways that help people make good decisions." People need to be reading the news, not switching off. When reading or producing news content consider how you want readers to feel, but also what you want them to do with that information. Hannah during the webinar, referred to an instance in New Zealand where exposure in the city of Whangarei to Covid-19 spurred people to get tested even in the intense heat. Hannah holds journalists to account for their negative framing of that event, and offers an alternative, that those lining up to get tested in those conditions are ensuring the safety of their community.        

8. Prioritise what issues you’re going to speak to 

Fran D'Orazio says there is a big job in predicting what narratives will spin out of control, "if you try and attack all the different fronts that get opened on the web, it's difficult to make an impact." Brands must choose what battles to fight and prioritise who should be answered. Develop a response framework for your brand to use when it’s found to be in the middle of a misinformed online dispute. Answer these questions, who are those agitators that need a response and what should they, along with their followers, take away from your response? 

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9. Anticipate rather than confront 

Anticipate the impact of a narrative on particular audiences. If you confront an audience already exposed to a misinformation narrative, they are unlikely to change their mind. If you anticipate them and introduce that audience to a truthful record, you may manage to immunise them once they encounter the myths. 

10. Improve your media and news literacy

It may be your first impulse to hit that share button but "stop and think before you share anything. That share button is a trigger." Sushi Das says, "everyone needs to be aware of themselves." Question what you see and how the content makes you feel. Don't just read a headline and share it with your communities; use resources like First Draft and NewsWhip to better verify what you and your audiences are consuming online. 

Extensive research into misinformation is showing that people are getting splintered into different realities based on the news they consume and the algorithms that continue the pattern of content. By developing our media literacy and sharing the truth with our communities, experts say we can change people's minds before they engage with falsehoods. It Just goes to show, don't keep an avocado in water…or accept everything you see online as fact.

 If you see something that is mis or disinformation, send them to initiatives like, info@thedisinfoproject.org or RMIT Factlab.

Watch Isentia's webinar, "Misinformation: Stopping the Spread", for more.

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Building a Communications Strategy in the era of Misinformation

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