This post is a listing of some of my recent writings elsewhere. From looking at the date of the previous post I can confirm that I have been busy, with no time to update this blog…
The big thing for Club Soda in the Summer of 2017 was our, and the UK’s, first Mindful Drinking Festival. It was in August at Bermondsey Square in South London, and was a roaring success. Nearly 50 non-alcoholic drinks brands were there, as well as food stalls, beer yoga, talks and tastings, and much more. The weather was on our side too, as the Sunday of the festival was the only sunny day of that and the following week – as seen in the photo above. And we estimated that 2,500 people came to try the drinks on offer. And “mindful drinking” suddenly became a big thing, listed on the Guardian as a “trend”.
There are some images and videos from the festival on Club Soda website. Afterwards, I wrote a guest blog for the Institute of Alcohol Studies: Club Soda hosts the first-ever Mindful Drinking Festival. I also wrote a guest blog for A hangover free life: Mindful Drinking Festival & Alcohol Free Drinks In Recovery. This article tackles the issue of whether people with alcohol misuse problems should avoid non-alcoholic beers and wines. The Club Soda view is that they can be really helpful in many ways, and it’s only if they trigger you to drink “the real thing” should you avoid them.
CAMRA also had their annual beer festival, and I did my second annual analysis of the alcohol-content of the real ales on offer. The main finding is that the average ABV has gone up slightly from last year, which I really wasn’t expecting. And the lower-alcohol choice is still more or less non-existent at this event.
And finally, Laura and me did a joint Club Soda Sunday webinar on what we have learned about moderating your drinking habits.
The news for the next two months is that we are organising the second Mindful Drinking Festival, this one a pre-Christmas event, on 24 and 25 November at Spitalfields Market. So I will most likely be too busy to update this blog for a few weeks again…
The big news is that the Club Soda Guide pilot project is now over. The Guide is still very much alive though, with over 250 venues signed-up so far, more joining every week, and the first batch of great places for mindful drinkers announced. We have also just released our evaluation report “Building a Mindful Drinking Movement” which has all the highlights from the project.
Non-alcoholic beers are becoming a bigger and bigger thing. Just the latest new entrant to the market is Nirvana, who have built the UK’s first dedicated low and no alcohol brewery in Leyton, east London. Their beers are very good, and they also do other fun stuff like non-alcoholic beer and yoga sessions. I also wrote a quick post about the five best non-alcoholic beers.
And low/no beers were a bit of a feature at Morning Advertiser’s MA500 pub event in Liverpool in May, where we were invited to talk about the Guide, and beer writer Pete Brown led a tasting of 0.5% beers and cider.
So that’s been the spring. The summer will mostly be taken by the organisation of UK’s first Mindful Drinking Festival that Club Soda is putting together in August, at Bermondsey Square. We are bringing together some of the best beers and wines under 0.5% abv as well as some great new soft drinks and even newer things like kombucha.
And we are also hoping to make some noise about the UK’s out-of-date labelling rules and regulations on low and no-alcohol drinks. It is an absolute mess at the moment, and so complicated that even lawyers are having a hard time figuring out what you can and can’t call “alcohol-free”.
We have been busy with the launch of Club Soda Guide, our listings site for the best licensed venues for mindful drinkers. A post at NudgingPubs tells the story in terms of innovation for and behaviour change with pubs.
Over at the Guide website, I put together suggestions for pub crawls in the City and Hackney in three blog posts: Shoreditch and Old Street pub crawl routes, Dalston and Stoke Newington pub crawl routes, and City of London pub crawl routes. There is still a couple of these to follow in the next few weeks.
I was asked to write a guest blog to University College London Centre for Behaviour Change‘s Digi-Hub. My brief was to talk about collaboration between businesses and academia, in particular from the point of view of a small startup company like Club Soda.
My post, which is part of a longer series of guest blogs, deals with evidence, evaluation, and the tension that working across organisational boundaries can create.
You can read the post here.
It’s been a bit beery recently. First, I wrote for the Club Soda blog about the low and no alcohol beers available in Finland. Things have moved on while I’ve been away, and the choice is really rather good these days, and the taste (mostly) very pleasing too.
And last week, for Nudging Pubs, I had a quick look at the number of lower alcohol beers on offer at the Great British Beer Festival, CAMRA’s annual real ale and cider celebration. In this case, I wasn’t very impressed…
I wrote a guest blog for London drug and alcohol charity Blenheim CDP on behaviour change techniques (BCTs), in particular about the BCT taxonomy from UCL. Read the blog here.
We’re working on an assessment tool to use with pubs and bars. The tool is meant to measure how welcoming the venues are to their non-drinking (or “less-drinking”) customers. We have been pondering all the various factors we could include in the tool, and how to classify them.
Having met some people from the Behaviour and Health Research Unit (BHRU) at Cambridge, they pointed me to their paper “Altering micro-environments to change population health behaviour: towards an evidence base for choice architecture interventions” in BMC Public Health. It could just help us get some of our ideas in order too.
The article has a nice typology for “choice architecture interventions in micro-environments”; I’ll just call them nudges from now on. There are nine types of nudges in this scheme:
- Ambience (aesthetic or atmospheric aspects of the environment)
- Functional design (design or adapt equipment or function of the environment)
- Labelling (or endorsement info to product or at point-of-choice)
- Presentation (sensory properties & visual design)
- Sizing (product size or quantity)
- Availability (behavioural options)
- Proximity (effort required for options)
- Priming (incidental cues to alter non-conscious behavioural response)
- Prompting (non-personalised info to promote or raise awareness)
The first five types change the properties of “objects of stimuli”, the next two the placement of them, and the final two both the properties and placement.
I can see how we could use this as a basis for our thinking on the factors we want to measure pubs and bars on. For example, some basics like the choice of non-alcoholic / low-alcohol drinks would be about Availability, display of non-alcoholic drinks could be Presentation, Proximity and also Priming, drinks promotions would be Prompting and Labelling, and staff training could perhaps be about Prompting too?
I can’t instantly think of anything that we couldn’t fit into the typology (although we might need some flexibility of interpretation!). Interestingly, when the Cambridge researchers reviewed the existing literature, they could only find alcohol related nudges of the ambience, design, labelling, priming and prompting types. And not many studies overall, especially compared to research on diet which was the most popular topic for these types of nudges.
On the other hand, we could probably also find at least one metric for every one of the nine types of nudges, but they might not be the most interesting or important ones for this project. But it could still be a useful exercise to go through.
Nudging Pubs is the final title to a little project that Club Soda completed last year (it was called “the Dalston Burst” at the start). The final report (pdf) from the project is now out, along with a brand new website.
The aim of the project was to answer this question:
How can we encourage pubs and bars to be more welcoming to customers who want to drink less alcohol or none at all?
The report has the findings from our research and experiments, along with recommendations and key messages. And the great news is that Hackney council are funding a second year of this project, for which Club Soda has partnered with Blenheim CDP. We’ll use the Nudging Pubs website for regular updates on the project, but I’ll probably do something occasionally on this blog as well.
Forgot to mention this earlier, but the Club Soda team (Laura, Cassie, me) wrote a little e-Book: “How to go dry this January (and make it stick)”. It is based on some free booklets we wrote and gave away to Club Soda members during (dry) January, with some extra material thrown in. The only drawback is that the book is only available for Kindle from Amazon at the moment. But we’re working on an expanded book which we’ll share more widely.
In other news, I’ve also been writing an eight-week email-based behaviour change course for people wanting to cut down or quit drinking: 8 Weeks to Change Your Drinking. The first customers are on day 23 now, and I’m looking forward to the first proper feedback from them next week.
I’ve just published two blogs at Club Soda. One is on the relationship between alcohol and cancer, and the other a background piece on epidemiological methodology.
And last week I wrote a little (tragi-) comedy piece about hunting for non-alcoholic beers at a beer festival.