Sèchey: Educating Consumers on Mindful Drinking

Sèchey's beverage profile.
Sèchey's beverage profile.

Over the past two years, no-alcohol beverages have been the third-fastest-growing category in the U.S., projected to grow by another $500 million in 2024. Numerator states the no-alcohol beverage industry has grown by an impressive 31%, amounting to roughly $510 million in revenue. 

“The non-alcoholic industry is simply not a trend — it’s a societal shift,” says Sèchey founder Emily Heintz. Sèchey is a specialty online and in-store retailer that carries alcohol-free spirits, wine and beer. “Consumer demand for different options is what’s fueling the growth of the category. They’re looking for different options to celebrate, socialize and connect as adults without alcohol. And when you think about this societal and cultural shift, it all comes down to wellness.”

Educating the Public on the Alcohol-Free Movement

Heintz founded Sèchey back in 2021 out of a desire to increase the availability, convenience and awareness of alternatives to alcohol. Even though they also sell beverages online, Heintz believes that a physical storefront is a great place to discover new brands and educate consumers about alcohol-free beverages. 

Sèchey storefront.

“We took a page out of traditional retail and have a storefront in a highly visible location in Charleston,” she says. “Some customers think we’re a traditional bottle shop and they’re surprised when they walk in to find other options. Other customers come specifically to explore the non-alcoholic category.”

To help educate the public on the no-alcohol category, Heintz ensures all of her store associates know all about the beverages and brands they sell. “They know ingredients, which products are low sugar, which ones are 100% alcohol-free or a lower ABV,” she says. 

Heintz also notes that she partners with certain brands to help spread the word and introduce them to customers. “We’re all about brand discovery. We help to build a relationship between the brands and customers,” she says.

Special Licenses for Sèchey

The state of SC requires Heintz to get an alcohol license, even to sell the alcohol-free products. They currently have a “7 Day Off-Premises Beer & Wine Permit (P7B),” which “authorizes the sale of beer and wine to go only, seven days a week, with no restrictions on hours of sale,” according to the South Carolina Department of Revenue.

“Once we did that, we carved out a small section for high end wine and champagne,” Heintz states. “We’re already paying for the license, and most of our customers come in looking for alcohol, so we have a small section for them, as well.”

Every beverage category has a place in Sèchey. There’s a CBD and THC section, a dealcoholized wine section and a spot for zero proof spirits, along with the small section for alcohol.

The Middle Man

For beverage alcohol retailers, they need to purchase their products from a wholesaler instead of directly from the brand itself. Since most of Sèchey’s inventory doesn’t contain alcohol, they don’t necessarily need to go through a middle man to purchase products. 

“I either order directly through the brand, some wholesale sites that specialize in alcohol-free products or distributors that have started to build out their non-alcoholic options,” says Heintz. “We decide which products to buy based on a combination of customer demand and then the branding has to look great. We also taste everything and make sure we like it.”

Sèchey Finds Success in the Rapidly Growing Industry

Emily Heintz, founder of Sèchey.

Major brands are catching on to the hype of the alcohol-free lifestyle wellness trend. Target, for example, just recently partnered with Sèchey to sell an assortment of alcohol-free brands. 

After a successful pilot in December, the first assortment launched during Dry January with five brands on an endcap near the adult beverage aisle. This second assortment features ten brands (8 female-founded), including Kin, Ghia, De Soi, Surely, Starla, Free AF, Mingle, Edna’s, Mocktail Club and Sèchey’s wine brand. 

The assortment now resides in the adult beverage aisle as Target digs into the big growth category of NA, appealing to consumers’ changing needs. There is also an exciting future for this “Shop in a Shop” partnership between Sèchey and Target.

“The introduction of the partnership was part of the wellness movement across all categories at Target,” notes Heintz. “Our assortment is new, so as of March when they did an entire store reset, there’s a new section. But it’s expanded based on the popularity of existing alcohol-free beer and water that was already there, so this is an addition to that.”

The Future of No-Alcohol Beverages

With no signs of the better-for-you wellness beverage movement slowing down anytime soon, many in the industry think this category will continue to skyrocket in popularity — especially as more brands make their way into the space. 

“It’s a wellness trend, so as people continue to look at their overall health and wellness, alcohol is just one level of that,” Heintz says. “I compare this to the early days of indie beauty, clean beauty and thinking about what we put on our skin. Now, we’re thinking about what we’re consuming. The alcohol category speaks specifically to wellness and as people continue to choose options over traditional alcohol, we see this category continuing to grow.”