US Millennials’ Alcoholic Beverage Attitudes and Usage Studied

November 28, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

CPG & FMCG | Out-of-Home | Television | Youth & Gen X

Millennial consumers (21-30-year-olds) and their thirst for new experiences have a clear impact on their alcoholic beverage choices – they frequently seek new tastes and are willing to pay a premium – according to a new study by The Nielsen Company.

Also known as “The Next Great Generation,” the 70 million Millennials outnumber Generation Xers (31-44-years-old) by nearly 25 million and are nearly as large as the approximately 77 million Baby Boomers (45-65-years-ld) in the US.

Alcoholic beverage preferences for the 21-30-year-old age group are clearly changing, Nielsen said: Ten years ago, beer accounted for 59% of this group’s alcoholic beverage spending; that number has shrunk 12 percentage points to 47% as wine and spirits purchases have grown in relatively equal proportions.

nielsen-alcohol-dollar-share-beverages-by-age-group.jpg

While the 31+ age group preferences are changing in a similarly, their wine and spirits preferences are moving at a much slower rate with only a six percentage point gain during the last 10 years.

Other, selected findings from the comprehensive study, below.

Beer Still the Favorite

Despite beer’s recent decline, Millennials still show a preference for it:

nielsen-alcohol-millennials-volume-and-dollar-share.jpg

  • On a dollar basis, beer represents the majority (47%) of Millennial consumers’ spending, compared with spirits (27%) and wine (26%).
  • On a volume basis, beer accounts for 83% of Millennials’ purchases, compared with 11% for wine and 6% for spirits.
  • Among Millennials who drink different types of alcoholic beverages, beer is most often cited at their “favorite.”

Millennials are exhibiting beer-drinking preferences that differ from older generations’ and are much more likely to experiment with different beer types and flavors:

  • Though domestic premium beers are still their dominant choice, Millennials are much more inclined than older consumers to purchase imported beers (28% of Millennial beer spending versus 15% for other age groups) or craft beers (15% of Millennial beer spending versus 6% for other age groups).
  • Mexican beers account for nearly one half (46%) of Millennials’ import purchases compared with approximately one-third (35%) of older consumers’ import purchases.
  • Older consumers show greater interest in imports from Holland, Germany and Canada than Millennials do.

Socializing with Spirits

As with beer, Millennials show a preference for premium over value when it comes to spirits, and are more likely to assign a social role to spirits:

  • Premium and ultra-premium spirits rank highest among Millennials, while value-priced spirits dominate consumers over age 50.
  • For example, Millennials satisfy nearly half of their vodka purchases with premium and ultra-premium priced brands, compared with less than one-third of total vodka sales for consumers over age 30, and 20% of consumers 61 years and older.
  • Compared with Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, Millennials are more inclined to consume spirits with their friends, in a bar or nightclub, and are the most enthusiastic age group in learning about spirits.
  • Millennials perceive spirits to be “fun,” “modern” and “popular”; Baby Boomers are less likely to consider spirits “fun” and more likely to perceive spirits as “relaxing” and “suiting their lifestyle.”

Red Wine Preferred

  • Millennials tend to prefer red wines (51% of volume) more so than older consumers (approximately 44%).
  • Among red wines, Cabernet and Pinot Noir have the most distinct skew toward Millennials; Chardonnay remains the most popular white wine across all ages.
  • Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Rieslings account for a higher share of Millennials’ wine purchases compared with the over-30 population.
  • Similar to the beer category, Millennials are more open to trying imported varieties and also contribute more to sake sales than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.
  • Nielsen’s research shows that while Millennials perceive wine to be “relaxing” and “sophisticated,” they associate a certain formality with wine, citing it most often as the beverage of choice during a “formal” night out, and less often for casual occasions.
  • While most Millennials consider themselves as novices or only slightly knowledgeable about wine, approximately one-third (34%) are interested in learning more.

“The Millennials are primed to be an extremely influential group,” said Richard Hurst, SVP of Beverage Alcohol at ACNielsen, a service of The Nielsen Company. “At the beginning of their careers, Millennials are discovering the world and have control over their money and time in ways their predecessors never did…. [U]nderstanding what they’re buying, why they’re buying, where they’re buying and how they’re buying represents an enormous opportunity for today’s manufacturers and retailers.”

About the study: Information for Nielsen’s Millennials and Beverage Alcohol Study was collected via a triangulation of Nielsen’s Homescan consumer panel information and online survey and fieldwork from a sample of nearly 900 consumers 21 years old and older who drink beer, wine and spirits at least once every two months..

Explore More Articles.

Marketing Charts Logo

Stay on the cutting edge of marketing.

Sign up for our free newsletter.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This