Emily Nicholls

Dr Emily Nicholls is a Lecturer in Sociology at the University of York, UK. Her research interests include gender/identity and consumption (specifically alcohol and sobriety). Her research has explored gender and risk on a ‘girls’ night out’; women’s experiences of early sobriety, and drinking during COVID-19. More recent work includes a project funded by the Institute of Alcohol Studies on the marketing and consumption of alcohol-free drinks. Emily is co-convenor of the Sobriety, Abstinence and Moderation research cluster (part of the international Drinking Studies Network) and her monograph on the ‘girls’ night out’ was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2019.

The expanding ‘NoLo’ alcohol market: regulation and the need for further research

With the no and low (NoLo) alcohol market continuing to expand, further research into the marketing and consumption of these products has never been more important. Despite the UK Government expressing an interest in encouraging NoLo consumption, there is currently little evidence to indicate that doing so will reduce alcohol-related harms. On the one hand, if the increased promotion and availability of such products supports people to change their current drinking practices (for example by ‘substitution’ i.e. replacing some alcoholic drinks with NoLos), this could be a positive change to support consumers to drink ‘moderately’, to have more ‘drink-free’ days or to change their existing practices. However, concerns remain over the way these products – which are often produced by the Alcohol Industry – are advertised. These include risks of ‘stealth’ marketing (where alcoholic flagship products and a wider alcohol brand are being promoted through NoLo advertising) and ‘addition’ marketing (encouraging consumption of NoLos on top of usual alcohol consumption). In addition, little is known about the implications of the expanding market for those with lived experience of alcohol addiction. All of these issues demand further investigation, and the marketing of NoLos should be subject to review and regulation.