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The team at Club Soda hosted the second Summer Mindful Drinking Festival last weekend, and we went along to soak it all up.

Having enjoyed the event last year, we were keen to see how the no & low movement is growing – and the answer is a lot! The 2018 edition was bigger, slicker and more of the big boys on show; albeit balanced nicely with new comers and independent producers. The key sponsors were Heineken, Eisberg and Ceders with support from over 40 brands spanning sodas, mixers, kombucha, syrups and soft drinks plus beers and non-alcoholic botanical ‘gins’.

If Imbibe was Gin, Gin, Gin – the Mindful Drinking Festival was Botanics, Botanics and Chili …oh and some Cayenne thrown in for good balance!

Spitalfields Market proved a great space for this kind of small, consumer-facing friendly ‘drinks’ farmers market. The sun was shining and the relaxed vibe meant everyone could make the most of the scattered striped deckchairs, numerous sand filled old style suitcases with buckets and spades with punters being serenaded by a revolving selection of solo guitar playing singers. Attendees were anything from 16 – 60+ and being low or no alcohol, a forum for families and younger teens etc. 90% of samples were given out in thimble sized plastic cups which were plentiful, but sadly no free sample bottles!

Ceders wins our vote for ‘best stand and all-round experience’. Founders Craig and Maria were on hand and had created a cool tent stand dressed with floor cushions, plants, flowers and hosted by a team of friendly and informative staff. Whilst Heineken’s stand was simple, clean and basic as an almost ‘anti-branding’ approach, Eisberg’s was a bit random and unimpressive with a black, lack lustre cloth back drop.

Southwark based Nix and Kix continue to impress with their execution and is definitely an independent brand to watch; recently covered in the Stylist magazine. Their range consists of three products, all laced with cayenne; mango and ginger, peach and vanilla and cucumber and mint.  They have achieved solid distribution in the off-trade via Tesco, Selfridges, Waitrose and Ocado. Scaling up will be the next challenge for this brand we think.

Caliente – ‘a new kind of kick’ – is a Swedish owned brand we found delightful. We chatted to the founder, Thomas Adner, who was friendly and informative. Their drinks are chili based with varying kicks from Plum Rosemary (our favourite), Cranberry and Pomegranate , Ginger and Lime, Blueberry and Lemongrass. The adult alternative soft drinks marketplace is quickly growing and becoming more diverse with new players entering all the time – we wish this brand well in their endeavour to crack the UK consumer market!

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Other notables for striking brand presence are Borrago (spirit), Fierce Tonic (roses, cinchona bard, spruce), Pimento, Old Mount cider and Punch 4% and 0% Rum Punch.

Overall, a fascinating and enjoyable visit, inspiring stuff and we truly admire the eulogising entrepreneurs in this space. We are starting to wonder how much room/shelf space there is for this ongoing trend and potential saturation of these start up botanical and chili brands is clearly a threat. That said – survival of the fittest is an age old adage. And the fittest in this market will be the brand who gets the right mix of great product, distribution, well placed positioning coupled with stand out brand storytelling and visual comms that plays into this newly formed landscape.

Conscious drinking is a trend that is here to stay and a lifestyle choice for many and we are excited to see where it leads next.

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