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Interview: Lyre’s founder Mark Livings on marketing mock alcohol

Alcohol-free adult drinks are moving into the mainstream in hospitality

Mark Livings started his career at Coca-Cola where he was involved in product experimentation and the expansion of the company. Having moved on to found his own marketing agency, he began to specialise in F&B. This ultimately allowed him to identify a gap in the adult beverages market and embark on what has become Lyre’s.

Today the Lyre’s range – which includes alcohol-free gin, bourbon, rum and wine – will soon be stocked in the Gulf’s high-end hotels, restaurants and bars, including Zuma, Galaxy Bar, Atlantis, The Palm and LPM Restaurant & Bar in Dubai; Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, and Mandarin Oriental in Riyadh.

Connecting Travel: What prompted you to launch a brand of non-alcoholic spirits?
Mark Livings: I started work on Lyre’s in 2015 when I became aware of a distinct gap in the market for high-quality, low or non-alcoholic drink options and sought something sophisticated without compromising on taste. The answer, after three years of development, was Lyre’s – a range of non-alcoholic time-tested drinks that work for any occasion.

We officially launched in 2019 and we’re thrilled to have launched in the MENA region this month

CT: What sets Lyre’s apart from its competitors?
ML: Lyre’s is unique for several reasons, perhaps, most importantly, the familiar flavour to alcoholic spirits . Lyre’s is the most awarded range of non-alcoholic spirits in the world. We’ve collected more than 350 international wine and spirits competition medals in only two years. Lyre’s is a luxurious spirit brand with meticulous attention paid to every ingredient, making it a sophisticated option for non-drinkers, rather than sugary, mass-produced cordials.     

Lyre's officially launched in the region on 23 MarchLyre’s range includes alcohol-free rum

CT: There’s a perception that non-alcoholic spirits are for people who don’t drink. Is this true?
ML: We want to give everyone the freedom to drink their way, not just provide an alternative to those who don’t drink alcohol. Lyre’s is a suitable beverage choice for various consumers, whether it be a consumer looking for a more mindful beverage choice or looking for the same social settings without compromising taste. 

CT: Where is the brand experiencing the most growth?
ML: The USA is presently the fastest growth market for Lyre’s. Its non-alcoholic sector is far less developed than Europe or Oceania, so there’s a lot of opportunity, especially given its population of 360 million people.

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CT: Lyre’s was one of the partners at the recently launched MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants. Have you been able to quantify the benefits?
ML: Exposing our brand to the most influential people in hospitality in the region was too good an opportunity to pass up. They were all very excited to get their hands on our product. I have no doubt that we will see the benefits of being a part of the MENA’s 50 Best in the coming months.

CT: What has been the response from professional mixologists?
ML: The response we’ve received has been especially positive – particularly those catering to locals. For those who have experience working with spirits, Lyre’s is an easy substitute for them to work with, and for those who haven’t previously worked with spirits, our product opens a world of flavours that were previously inaccessible.

CT: How do you see the low- and no-alcohol sector evolving in this region?
ML: With an increased focus on health and wellness in the region, we foresee an increase in demand for non-alcoholic products in the GCC. This sector is evolving and it supports the lifestyle consumers want to achieve, between maintaining a healthy lifestyle while still consuming beverages of the same sophistication in social events settings.

For more information, visit www.lyres.com

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