June 13, 2019

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We knew this day was coming. Just as the "sober curious" movement has taken off, with more wellness-minded millennials steering clear of wine, beer, and spirits in favor of booze-free alternatives, the alcohol industry is fighting back — by reimagining itself as a healthy beverage category.

Yep, you heard that right: Alcohol wants a wellness makeover.

On the one hand, new brands are hitting the shelves, including Sufferfest Beer, which markets itself as a post-workout recovery drink. Then there's FitVine, a wine line that claims its product is made with fewer sulfites and less sugar than that of its rivals — along with no flavor additives or GMOs, of course.

These new companies may sound fresh and inventive to the fitness set, or they might also be regarded as silly marketing tactics. Some argue that labeling certain types of alcohol as "good" puts it on a pedestal over rival varieties that may not be warranted. This can be problematic from a body positivity standpoint, as well as from the perspective of science, since there's no guarantee this booze is actually better for you.

Meanwhile, bigger alcohol brands like Dogfish Head and Harpoon are pivoting to wellness, too, with the release of light beers. This seems like a natural extension, and we'll have to see if customers bite (or guzzle).

Speaking of rebranding, protein bars have long been considered a health food, but customers are realizing that some bars are packed with sugar and preservatives and can even have more saturated fat than a donut. Enter Perfect Bar, a preservative-free brand whose products can be found in the refrigerator aisle of grocery stores. Situating its bars next to milk and cheese is a gamble for the company, but one that could pay off in Perfect Bar's quest to make protein bars seen as healthy again.

Whether it's booze or bars, we're waiting to see if these rebranding efforts will appeal to wellness-conscious customers — or turn them off entirely.

For feedback or news tips, reach out via email at lb@skift.com or tweet me @lesliebarrie.

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Food & Drink
Alcohol Tries to Rebrand Itself as 'Healthy' to Appeal to Millennials

Yes, light beer has been around for a while, but a whole new wave of "good-for-you" alcohol is hitting shelves. It's an attempt to appeal to millennial wellness enthusiasts who can, for example, buy workout recovery beer from Sufferfest or wine from FitVine. The move comes as more customers are turning away from alcohol and instead opting for seltzer or mocktails, or even going full "Dry January." Still, some argue that labeling certain alcohol as "healthy" is nothing but a scam that aims to guilt customers.

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Perfect Bar Defies the Protein Bar Category and Finds Major Success

In the refrigerated aisle of the supermarket, you might expect to find milk and eggs, but not protein bars. But the Keith family, founders of Perfect Snacks, decided to launch a preservative-free peanut butter protein bar that would need to live in the same section as cheese and yogurt. Whole Foods in Berkeley gave the bars a 30-day trial, and the company pulled in $20,000 in a single month. Perfect Snacks is now projected to pull in $130 million in sales in 2019, showing that fresh is often best for business.

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Ben & Jerry's Ready to Craft a CBD-Infused Ice Cream

If the Food and Drug Administration finally decides to approve CBD in food and drinks (the recent hearings didn't go so smoothly), Ben & Jerry's will have an ice cream flavor at the ready. The cheeky dessert company even displayed a mock-up of a CBD ice cream carton on its website. For a company famous for its Half Baked flavor, it seems like a natural fit to start putting CBD into its scoops.

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Fitness Startup Mirror Screens Receives a Near $300 Million Valuation

With a fresh round of $36 million in funding, Mirror — the company that makes $1,495 mirrors that double as interactive fitness screens — is now in the big leagues. The company operates on a similar model as Peloton: Customers buy a screen and a subscription for workout content that gets displayed on the mirror. While the upfront costs may seem too high, if the strategy is working for Peloton, there's a good chance it'll work for Mirror.

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Chicago's NikeLab May Hint at What's Coming in Retail

The athleisure giant might be onto something (again). As a retail experiment in Chicago, Nike put designer and artist Virgil Abloh to work. The NikeLab Chicago Re-Creation Center, as it's called, hits on two key trends: sustainability and experience. Abloh sees the store as an almost public space. Good press over the inventive Re-Creation Center may be just what Nike needs after its recent controversy over poor maternity leave for female athletes.

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Skift Wellness Editor Leslie Barrie [lb@skift.com] curates the Skift Wellness newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.

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