We're better off with Better Without24 November 2022
One of the frustrations of alcohol-free drinks is knowing where to find them. Or at least, where to find a good selection of them. After all, while they’re far more widely spread than ten years ago, they’re far from ubiquitous.
Which is why we really like the Better Without app. Put simply, if you make, sell, serve or just plain buy alcohol-free drinks, you should have this on your phone.
You can check it out here.
Now owned by the US importers of alcohol-free, Better Rhodes, it’s the brainchild of Brit, Jonny Stevens. Like many people he found he was drinking too much during the first wave of Covid and decided to give up alcohol. He had liked using drinks ratings apps such as Vivino and Untappd, and wondered whether there was an equivalent in the world of AF.
It turns out there wasn’t. And, with a background creating technology for the hospitality industry, he decided to do something about it. Within two days he had sketched out a plan and spoken to a designer; just 16 weeks later – at the end of 2020 – the app launched.
The basic premise is simple: Better Without is a one-stop shop to tell you the venues/stores in your area that sell alcohol-free.
It backs this up with product ratings and reviews, food-match suggestions and handy filters for those looking for vegan, gluten-free etc.
Currently, the product information comes from brands, who log-in to the portal and upload their product details. But bars, restaurants and retailers can also log in and select any of the 1200 listed AF products they sell, linking to all the information provided by the brands.
Consumers, meanwhile, can mention stores or venues where they have bought or ordered something to ensure they get a listing. Consumers can also review products and see all their reviews under their own activity area. This review system allows other users to see how a product is scoring.
Jonny believes that the app’s focus on alcohol-free means that the consumer reviews are fairer. ‘When we first started, I was looking at Lucky Saint on Untappd and it was getting 2.5 stars,’ he says.
By contrast, Lucky Saint’s unfiltered lager scores 4.7 on the Better Without app. ‘People understand what the drinks are about, so they’re reviewing it in a fair light,’ he says.
Currently there is no charge for brands to sign up for the app and list their products, though they can pay to promote them if they wish. And as interaction grows and the data available becomes more comprehensive, Jonny sees ways of building a deep-dive market research tool that could be incredibly useful to producers.
‘A lot of brands don't know where they’re stocked, because they go through distribution channels,’ he says. ‘It's a big problem. So we’re looking to build out a platform that's more brand insights data-driven. Where they can see where they're stocked and work out where they want to support.’
They aren’t, he admits, quite there yet. But being acquired by Better Rhodes earlier this year has helped. And the more producers, retailers and hospitality venues that download the app and make sure their details are included, the more comprehensive and useful it will be.
Relying for success on a virtuous circle of mass-participation might seem over-optimistic in some areas, but not, Jonny believes, in the field of alcohol-free.
‘It’s amazing how many people suggest venues that sell products,’ he says. ‘One thing we’ve discovered is that people who’ve given up alcohol really want to help others discover where alcohol-free options are available.’
Whether making it, selling it or just buying alcohol-free for ourselves, this is a great addition to the AF space. Despite it’s name, it’s one thing we are definitely not better off without!
STOP PRESS: Congratulations to Jonny, who has just been named in the 'Top 29 Entrepreneurs Under 29' by fast-growing tech news and start-ups site TechRound.