1 in 3 Americans Drinks Alcohol at Least Weekly

May 18, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | CPG & FMCG | Media & Entertainment | Men | Retail & E-Commerce | Women | Youth & Gen X

Three in ten (29%) US adults report that they drink alcohol, including beer or wine, at least once a week, with 6% saying they drink daily, and men and Easterners more likely to drink than others, according to (pdf) a recent survey by Harris Interactive.


The poll found that 20% of Americans drink at least once a month, while 12% say they drink several times a year, 6% drink at least once a year and 8% drink alcohol less often than once a year.

One-quarter (25%) of US adults say they never drink alcohol, the survey found.

Men, Younger Demos, Easterners More Likely to Drink

Men (40%) are more likely to drink alcohol at least once a week than women (19%), while women are more likely to say they never drink alcohol (29% vs. 22% of men).


Other demographic survey findings:

  • Among generations, one-third (33%) of Echo Boomers (those ages 18-32) say they drink at least once a week, compared with 26% of Gen Xers (ages 33-44).
  • Easterners are much more likely to drink daily and at least once a week compared with other regions of the country. More than one-third (37%) of those living in the East drink alcohol at least once a week compared with 26% of Midwesterners, 28% of Southerners and 29% of Westerners.
  • More than one in 10 Easterners (12%) drink daily compared with just 3% of both Midwesterners and Westerners.
  • One-third of Democrats (33%) and three in ten Independents (30%) drink alcohol at least once a week, but just more than one-quarter (26%) of Republicans say the same.

Beer, Wine, Vodka Top Drinks

Among those who drink alcohol at least several times a year, two-thirds (67%) say they drink beer, while half (49%) say they drink domestic wine.


Other drink choices:

  • 41% drink vodka
  • 32% drink rum
  • 29% drink foreign wine
  • 24% drink tequila
  • 8% drink champagne
  • 16% drink non-scotch whiskey, such as Canadian or Irish whiskey
  • 15% drink bourbon
  • 14% each drink gin and cordials
  • 13% drink scotch

Additional findings about drink choice:

  • Those in the East and in the West regions of the US are more likely to drink many of these types of liquor than those in the Midwest and South. For example, Easterners are much more likely to drink foreign wine (42%), cordials (23%) and scotch (20%). Westerners, however, are much more likely to drink tequila (32%) and champagne (27%).
  • Four in five men (81%) drink beer compared with just half (51%) of women.
  • More than half of women drink domestic wine (56%) compared with 43% of men.
  • Women are more likely to drink vodka (43% vs. 39% of men), tequila (25% vs. 23%) and champagne (20% vs. 17%)
    Men are more likely to drink foreign wine (31% vs. 26% of women), bourbon (21% vs. 7%) and scotch (19% vs. 5%).

Harris suggests that numbers may be slightly higher during the economic downturn than during times of greater prosperity. Since alcohol has been found to be associated with mental depression, “people may be drinking more – either in amount or frequency,” Harris said.

A separate study by Nielsen found that consumers are scaling back their out-of-home consumption of beer, wine and spirits by going out to drink less often, and spending less on what they drink at home. Retailer Daily reports that 37% of consumers are going out to bars and clubs less often, while 50% are actively seeking the best deals – including comparing shelf prices, waiting for sales and taking advantage of promotions and special offers – on their alcohol purchases.

About the survey: The Harris Poll surveyed 2,401 US adults online between April 13 and 21, 2009.

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