Sales of lower-alcohol drinks (LADs) have soared 10% in volume and value over the past two years and would increase in value by 25% to £82.7m over the next five, predicted Mintel senior market analyst Michelle Strutton.
Demand for weaker drinks was being fuelled partly by the media's focus on Britain's binge-drinking culture, and partly by improvements in the quality of LADs, she said.
Beer, which has an 80% share of the LADs market, was spearheading innovation and quality improvements, she claimed.
"We are seeing sales go from strength to strength," she said. "Innovation is driving the market with launches and brand extensions, and product quality continues to improve. Lager dominates, buoyed by investment in new lower and mid-strength variants."
Stella Artois 4% owner InBev UK agreed that consumer perceptions of LADs had improved.
A spokesman said the company was pleased with the early sales of Stella Artois 4%, which it launched in August, and claimed it already had a higher share of sales than Heineken or San Miguel.
"Stella Artois 4% gives consumers the reassurance that they are choosing a beer brewed with the same credentials of the Stella Artois parent brand," said a spokesman.
InBev plans new Stella 4% advertising to encourage shoppers to trial LADs