Exploring the Alcoholic Beverage Consumer’s Mindset

Exploring the Alcoholic Beverage Consumer’s Mindset

A new Nielsen Category Shopping Fundamentals study explores the U.S. consumer’s mindset when it comes to purchasing alcoholic beverages. How do they plan? How engaged are they? What influences them? The study’s findings, which span beverage categories and cover different demographics, can help drive marketing tactics for an industry that heavily relies on brand imagery, traditional marketing communications and the emerging field of shopper marketing.

Key Demographic Takeaways:

  • Millennials are experimental, attentive consumers. Retailers can appeal to them through in-store displays, promotions and new product launches. Habitual purchasing behaviors develop as consumers age, resulting in heavily planned purchases and “auto-pilot” shopping behavior as seen among Boomer-generation alcoholic beverage consumers.
  • Hispanic consumers are highly engaged, with pre-store influencers. Tailored messaging resonates with this demographic and can influence decisions made later at the shelf. Social influence is also strong within this group, furthering the potential impact and creating demographic-specific messaging.

  • Males purchase more alcoholic beverages than females. While differences become more nuanced by category, current marketing activity seems to resonate more strongly with male consumers.  Females are more difficult to reach as they prove to be less engaged with both in-store and pre-store stimuli. Females are also more likely to purchase alcohol at the request of another person.

Key Category Takeaways:

  • Consumers are more impulsive with pre-mixed cocktails and malt-based beverages purchases. While decisions to buy alcoholic beverages are planned in 69 percent of instances, niche categories, such as pre-mixed cocktails and flavored malt-based beverages, reflect a pronounced shift to more impulse purchase behavior. While pre-store marketing is still important for brand awareness, focused in-store efforts can activate these unplanned purchases.
  • Consumers typically postpone spirit purchases until they venture out to make other purchases. While consumers largely plan their trips to make spirit purchases, the spirit purchases themselves only trigger 39 percent of the trips. Combining alcohol marketing communication with consumer packaged goods is key for activating these types of purchases. The range of state regulations regarding the distribution of products with high alcohol by volume levels also holds a profound impact on how, when and where spirits are purchased.
  • Traditional beer drinkers are planners. Overall, beer consumers exhibit a high level of planning and habitual in-store behavior.  Mainstream domestic beer consumers are purpose-driven, consuming 78 percent of their purchases on the same day. Marketers can break through their habitual behavior through usage occasion marketing, highlighting a variety of settings to consume and share the beverage.
  • Craft beer consumers, on the other hand, are much more impulsive. Craft beer drinkers make purchases without having a specific occasion in mind. These consumers are attentive to in-store marketing triggers, providing opportunities for specialty and seasonal beers alike.
  • Wine drinkers are explorers and make their purchase decisions in-store. Compared to the beer and spirits categories, a high level of wine purchase decisions are made in-store (37 percent), and consumers make 70 percent of their product decisions at the shelf. Engagement with the category begins even before visiting the store. Wine samples, engaging in word-of-mouth and recalling exposure to advertising can greatly help boost this category’s sales.