At what point is an alcohol column not an alcohol column? Probably when it’s about alcohol-free drinks, you might say.

But that means that we might be missing out on talking about a crucial segment of your range.

I’ve written about alcohol-free…alcohol(?) before, but it sprung back on to my agenda thanks to Steve Magnall’s quote about the potential size of the market.

Steve, the CEO of St Peter’s Brewery, is bullish about the future. “We expect the alcohol-free drinks market to grow to 10% of the overall drinks category within the next 10 years,” he said.

It’s not all about catering for only one customer group, of course, but trends tend to start with the young and spread from there

It backed up Heineken’s numbers around the launch of Heineken 0.0 earlier in the year. They predicted a doubling of the alcohol-free beer market within the next four years.

Companies are now taking this potential market seriously. And while sales of alcohol-free beer will not take the place of your traditional big sellers right now – a 10-year wait for a 10% market share is some seriously long-distance future-gazing – there is a market here that is worth looking into.

It’s driven by the continuing fall in the number of young people drinking alcohol, a continued drive towards health and wellbeing and some amazing new non-alcoholic options.

At the Better Wholesaling Summit on July 13, we heard some wonderful presentations from some of the country’s leading wholesalers about some of the big issues in wholesale.

One of the most interesting presentations on the day was from Joanna Feeley from TrendBible. It’s very easy to get lost in talk of trends – I think I heard of about 20 different ‘trends’ on the day – but in summarising her insights, Joanna delivered one key “take home” thought.

“Build a thorough understanding of the end consumer,” she said, “particularly millennials.” It’s not all about catering for only one customer group, of course, but trends tend to start with the young and spread from there.

Get to know the 20-to-30-year-old potential alcohol shoppers in your local area. They will be the ones coming back again and again. And they will help drive that 10% figure over the next 10 years.