Millennials Redefine the Alcohol Beverage Landscape

Millennials Redefine the Alcohol Beverage Landscape

Danny Brager, Vice President and Group Client Director, Beverage Alcohol

Jim Greco, Vice President, Region Manager, Beverage Alcohol

Over the course of the next 10 years, “millennial” consumers (those currently aged 21-34) will make up 40 percent of American 21 and older. So how does this demographic approach their alcohol beverage purchases? Nielsen analyzed millennial consumer attitudes and preferences to understand the generation’s significant impact on the beverage alcohol industry.

Millennials are redefining the beverage alcohol landscape and will continue to do so in the years ahead. Without a doubt, millennials are a large and influential generation and alcohol beverage companies need to know their taste and buying preferences in order to take advantage of the trends that can greatly impact business.

Highlights of our findings:

  • Compared to the general population, millennials are more likely to trade back up to more expensive alcohol beverage brands as the economy improves.
  • Millennial consumers are more likely to equate product cost with quality.
  • Millennials are more likely to explore new and different alcohol beverage products and will be even more likely to buy a locally-made or produced product knowing it may help the local economy.
  • An added boost for marketers employing social or traditional media to influence behavior, millennials are slightly more likely to plan their purchases versus purchase on impulse in today’s down economy.
  • Millennials’ tendency to experiment and try new things will keep them versatile, skipping between a variety of alcoholic beverages. While the majority of millennials still prefer beer, they purchase relatively more wine and spirits than older generations did at a comparable age. Nielsen’s research shows that as consumers age, their lifestyle transitions typically result in a relative shift from beer to wine and spirits. Given that current millennial preferences between beer, wine and spirits diverge from prior generations, future consumption preferences also become less predictable.
  • By 2036, the majority of consumers age 21 and over will be multicultural. Hispanics, in particular, are swelling the ranks of these newer legal drinking age consumers and their tastes are influenced both by cultural factors, such as their degree of acculturation, as well as attitudes that include a willingness to try new things and openness to be influenced by other consumers’ suggestions.

Understanding how Millennials’ product preferences may change as they age, while at the same time recognizing the alcohol beverage buying habits of younger, ethnic consumers will be essential for alcohol beverage companies to future-proof their portfolios. Leveraging social media will be a critical marketing strategy for alcohol beverage companies to communicate with Millennial consumers and make their brands relevant with this generation.

About Nielsen’s Millennial Study

Nielsen’s analysis is based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative research examining dynamics such as consumer attitudes, behavior, lifestyle, media and retail preferences to gain insight into today’s alcohol beverage consumer. The research, conducted in Q2 2010, includes online survey responses from 7,500 millennial generation consumers of legal drinking age (21 – 34), geographically and demographically representative of the total U.S. population.