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Tracking Dry January trends: 2021 vs. 2022

dry january

In 2013, Alcohol Change launched their first ever Dry January campaign. Aiming to encourage people to have a break from booze and experience the benefits of going alcohol-free, the public health campaign has been growing in popularity ever since.

Each year, the brave and courageous amongst us attempt this month-long sabbatical from alcohol. However, with the past two years bringing uncertainty and anxiety, is Dry Jan still as popular as before?

I was interested to find out how Dry January trends have changed over the past year, and what the drivers behind taking part in this sobriety challenge are. Using Relative Insight’s comparative text analytics software, I looked at how the conversation around Dry January on social media has evolved in 2022 compared to 2021.

Relative Insight layers on top of social listening data to provide an extra layer of analysis and enhance social insights. The platform does this by comparing two or more written data sets, pinpointing the words, phrases, topics, grammar and emotions that are more prevalent in one text over another. This enables us to understand how public sentiment changes over time, and spot trends in consumer behavior.


Looking at tweets from 2021, our analysis showed that the sentiment towards taking part in Dry January dipped last year, with people 7.4x more likely to speak about quitting Dry January trends. Words such as postponed, canceled and quit reflected this trend further, with Twitter users waving goodbye to a month of no alcohol. But what exactly prompted this shift?

2021 insight card - quitting dry january

Firstly, we discovered that people who spoke about Dry January trends in 2021 were 4.2x more likely to reminisce on the previous year. Users discussed lessons learned from 2020 – “a bad year” when coronavirus took the world by storm, leaving streets deserted, shops closed and our lives at a standstill. Twitter users chose not to participate in Dry Jan for exactly these reasons.

2021 insight card -  lessons from 2010

Furthermore, changing circumstances had led some Twitter users to quit the challenge early. In 2021, audiences were infinitely more likely to speak about politics on Twitter, referring to the UK’s national lockdown impacting their commitment to Dry January trends, as well as the attempted coup of The White House. People also spoke about the challenge of sticking to Dry Jan whilst home schooling. This highlights the belief that alcohol will ultimately combat stress, an idea that is ingrained into our society.

2021 insight card -  changing political circumstances


As we kick off 2022, people seem to be more committed to doing Dry January than ever before. This year, tweets mentioning Dry January trends are 2.2x more likely to include phrases such as Dry January starts now and Dry January begins now. However, by placing emphasis on words such as starts and begins, we can see that people may have delayed the first day of their sober month in order to get the most enjoyment out of the holidays.

2022 insight card - dry jan starts now...

Many people participate in Dry January to feel healthier and start the new year “right”, which is clearly a motivation for this year’s intake who claim to be feeling the benefits of cutting out alcohol. In comparison to last year, audiences are 6.1x more likely to use the phrase feeling great and going well throughout their tweets. We also found that people are more likely to talk about their 2022 goals when discussing Dry January, suggesting that rather than dwelling on the past year, audiences are optimistic about the year ahead.  

2022 insight card - feeling great

Despite there being a greater sense of positivity around this year’s Dry January trends – and less mention of lockdowns and politics – people also have their reasons for not taking part. Some Twitter users highlight the negative effect of giving up drinking on pubs and bars. They refer to the impact which the pandemic has had on the hospitality industry and instead, are showing their support for these businesses by not participating in the alcohol-free month.

2022 insight card - effect on hospitality industry

Analyzing and comparing organic discussions across two time periods can reveal how general sentiment is changing. The commitment to Dry January trends is clearly affected by external factors such as lockdowns, politics and childcare duties. However, it seems that 2022 is a year where people plan to get their lives back on track! One thing is for certain: the importance of market research in the time of coronavirus remains vital to better understand the ever evolving sentiment of audiences.

To find out how text analytics can help your business discover meaningful customer insights, request a demo and speak to one of our experts!

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