Meet Mark Livings - Founder Of Lyre's Non-Alcoholic Spirits
Healthy hedonism is now all the rage. We get our kicks from sweating in studios, our only ‘highs’ being the naturally occurring ones like dopamine and endorphins that our bodies produce through exercise. Who needs alcohol? Well, quite. According to Deloitte, millennials drink 20% less alcohol than their parents at the same age and 64% expects to drink less in the future. 60% of UK consumers switch seamlessly between non-alcoholic and alcoholic formats. It’s no surprise that brands like Lyre’s alcohol-free spirits are in such high demand. We spoke to Mark Livings, CEO of Lyre’s about the mindful drinking movement gathering momentum around the globe…
How did you come up with the idea for Lyre’s?
After a career of marketing beverages (including alcoholic ones), we spotted a gap in the consumer market for great tasting non-alcoholic spirits. It was at the time an untapped category. We could see based on declining rates of alcohol consumption, that people would be demanding better, healthier and mindful choices with familiar flavour profiles that worked in the same way in their drinks.
We established that people wanted to make better choices around their alcohol consumption but still enjoy their much-loved drink of choice – and this started the Lyre’s creation process. It took three years of development and involved travelling around the world to work with some of the world’s most technologically advanced beverage companies. We were on a mission to create convincing, delicious, non-alcoholic versions of the world’s most loved spirits.
We took a science-first approach, ensuring only natural ingredients were added into the beverages through the use of a number of innovative ingredient extractions and blending processes, this was rewarded with now the world’s most awarded range of non-alcoholic spirits, 13 Lyre’s homages to original spirits.
What’s the ethos behind Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Spirits?
Lyre’s ethos has always been to change the way the world drinks. The brand launched to market with 13 non-alcoholic spirits and liqueurs to enable people who want to be more mindful, or switch in and out of alcohol the ability to have their favourite tipple, their way, without compromising on quality, taste and aroma.
The Lyre’s portfolio pays homage to the world’s most beloved spirits and liqueurs and any bartender or home drinker can re-create most cocktails in a non-alcoholic fashion, simply by reaching for a different bottle. Lyre’s products are as a simple single variant plus mixer serve, like our Dry London Spirit and Tonic, or use together with multiple other variants to create a diverse range of classic and contemporary cocktails like Espresso Martini, Amaretto Sour, Negroni, Old Fashioned and Italian Orange Spritz.
Our portfolio now includes a range of 14 premium non-alcoholic spirits, including the latest spirit to the portfolio – Pink London Spirit – as well as five ready-to-drink pre-mixed drinks in 250ml cans.
Who is Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Spirits targeted at?
Lyre’s is ideal for mindful drinkers who are looking to enjoy a sophisticated drink that tastes delicious but without the alcohol. It is also for drinkers who are looking to switch in and out of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks whenever they feel like taking a break, for a full month, or even on a single night out.
As the mindful drinking trend gather momentum around the globe, more people are looking for innovative alternatives to alcohol that don’t involve them sipping a sparkling water or a soft drink. According to the World Health Organisation alcohol consumption has dropped from 10,6L to 9L per year over the last six years. This is especially prevalent in the younger generation. According to Deloitte, millennials drink 20% less alcohol than their parents at the same age and 64% expects/have the ambition to drink less in the future and 60% of UK consumers switch seamlessly between non-alcoholic and alcoholic formats.
Times are certainly changing and this moderation is attributed to rapidly changing preferences in consumption and tied to attitudes towards health, wellbeing and the social convention of drinking. And as this trend has evolved, consumers are looking for more sophisticated drinks rather than the previously limited options.
How did the pandemic affect your business?
Our launch strategy for Lyre’s was to focus on supplying on-trade – bars and restaurants – and retail listings and almost overnight both markets became inaccessible. Bars and restaurants closed their doors and retailers weren’t looking for any new listings they were just focused on supplying demand and logistics.
We quickly had to change our approach and decided to put all our efforts into our eCommerce platform, developing a best in-class website. As the days began to blur into nights with everyone stuck at home, consumer behaviour began to change, people wanted to treat themselves at the end of the day, but not necessarily with alcohol. And with time on their hands people started to look at alternative beverage options and experiment more with non-alcoholic. Sales on our website exploded, we were seeing 400% sales growth month on month. We went from fighting to survive to fighting to keep up.
The pandemic seemed to accelerate the mindful drinking trend and the Lyre’s extensive portfolio and quality of liquid hit the right spot and we’ve never looked back.
What’s your greatest achievement?
I’ve had quite a few highlights, but my greatest achievement is for sure launching Lyre’s. From having an idea – which is to change the way the world drinks – to developing and launching a portfolio of non-alcoholic spirits that in two years has become the most awarded non-alcoholic spirits brand globally is a phenomenal achievement. The range has won prestigious accolades from London Spirits Competition, Spirits Business and IWSC among others. Lyre’s Italian Orange and Italian Spritz just recently won Master medals, the highest accolade possible, at Spirit Business’ Autumn Blind Taste Test Awards.
Our mission has always been to ensure the spirits we produce do not compromise on quality or taste and it’s great to see the brand is getting the recognition it deserves and ultimately shows that our hard work has paid off.
What’s been your biggest hurdle?
I’ve always strived to make face-to-face meetings a priority, especially when it comes to meeting new investors and visiting new team members in other markets. Moving almost overnight from travelling across the world for meetings to seeing new faces and teams via Zoom was challenging at first and a completely new way of working for me. However, one of my biggest hurdles has been to ensure that I don’t burn out and that I have a healthy work life balance, which is often difficult for an entrepreneur. Leaning into technology has helped slow down my very busy, often hectic travel schedule and helped improve my productivity but still enables me to maintain collaboration and connection with my team.
What’s the best investment you’ve made in your wellness?
Re-evaluating my alcohol consumption has been life changing. I’ve become more mindful of what I’m drinking and when I’m drinking it. Like many of us, for years I would go out with friends or for work events and consume a variety of alcoholic drinks, waking up the next day feeling lethargic. Now, I socialise in a different way, embracing the night out with friends but my mindset has changed to a more conscious consumption of alcohol – switching in and out of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks so I can feel at my best the next day.
What’s the future for Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Spirits?
A very busy one! We’ve lots of exciting plans and product innovation in the pipeline that will join our current portfolio of 14 impossibly crafted spirits and liqueurs, ready to-drink pre-mixed cans and Classico – our Prosecco style variant. Alongside this is building the rapidly expanding list of markets where Lyre’s is available. We’re currently available in over 50 countries including Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Hong Kong and Singapore.
As well as being the brand’s strapline, Stay Spirited is an important life mantra for me. Whether it’s in a business capacity or my personal life, having a positive, can-do attitude will always stand you in good stead whatever the situation. It has been a great mantra for me and my team these last 18 months and has helped us get through the initial, unprecedented times of the pandemic.
What are your favourite drinks in the portfolio?
I don’t have a favourite; I have different drinks I prefer depending on the celebration or occasion. We launched to market with a portfolio of 13 spirits which was a bold and brave move and we did it so people that didn’t want to drink alcohol could still have a sophisticated tipple of their choice, and with our portfolio you can make most of the world’s best cocktails as well as single serves – there’s something for everyone!
Enjoyed this interview with Mark Livings, Founder Of Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic Spirits? Read more Mindful Drinking related content.
This is a partnership feature with Lyre’s.
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