Psychedelic resurgence, the rise of experiential festivals, & the slow death of alcohol

Over the last decade, psychedelics or 'mind-expanding' drugs have made a comeback in modern science, public discourse, and cultural significance. There is a 'woke' movement very much like the 1960s. Popular books such as Michael Pollen's 'How to Change Your Mind' and mainstream media are now helping bring to light promising clinical research with drugs like psilocybin, MDMA, and ayahuasca. There is enough anecdotal evidence for using these drugs to treat mental health problems such as depression, PTSD, and addiction. 


This psychedelic revival has led to the popularisation of experiential festivals such as 'Burning Man' focused on community, art, and self-expression. Closer to home in New Zealand, we have similar festivals like Splore and NZ Spirit that imbibe these values. It would be a fair statement that more and more individuals are attending such events every year. These festivities are not about drinking a lot of alcohol and getting drunk but more about an experience. The majority of the attendees of such festivals are millennials. Almost 60% of attendees at 'Burning Man' fall in that age group. 


Additionally, another trend driven by millennials is the zero/no-alcohol trend. Millennials are maturing into that middle lifestyle phase where they have busy careers and are concerned about their health and wellbeing, generally at that age where you get married and have kids. A report by IWSR of the alcoholic market forecasts that by 2024 zero-alcohol category will represent a full third of the total market. 


When we look at both the psychedelic resurgence and the emergence of zero alcohol drinks together, it's no surprise that the Millennials drive them. The concept of having fun no longer involves alcohol but an environment of self-expression & freedom that may include a moderate use of psychedelics. 


Alcohol companies should take notice because the definition of having a 'good time' is changing. The younger generation no longer prioritises alcohol for having a good time socialising or partying. Other mind-altering substances, including cannabis, are replacing alcohol. 


The alcohol market is declining. It would be interesting next few years in the Non-alcoholic drinks category as beverage companies have the opportunity to partake in the psychedelic resurgence by bringing the right 'Set & Setting' and using ingredients that can enhance one's state of mind. 


After all, mind-altering substances, even cannabis, don't mix well with alcohol. 🙂