January 13, 2018      3 min read

Industry data shows that millennials are not only drinking less alcohol than older generations, but that they are more likely to reject beer in favour of wines and spirits. Brewers however, shouldn’t panic about brewery inventory sitting idle on the shelf. Craft beer continues to dominate the category with global studies showing the craft beer drinker to be predominantly male, educated and with an average age of between 26-38 years.

Millennial Characteristics

Millennials are often accused of being a fickle bunch and while there may be some truth to that, it is also true that millennials are a socially oriented bunch, they live online and are early adapters.

This demographic place value on personal image and they are inclined to be influenced by people they see as like themselves. Reference groups play a key role in influencing the purchase behaviour of millennials who rely heavily on word-of-mouth, advice from friends and significant others.

Less concerned with brand loyalty, their digital presence translates to brand community. Social recognition is a key value in the buying behaviour of these social drinkers.

Rosé tint my world

Not since the late eighties has rosé experienced such a resurgence in popularity outside of countries such as Spain and Portugal. According to Nielsen data, rosé consumption in the United States has experienced a 57 percent increase in dollar value in the last 12 months.

Millennials are now the largest wine-drinking demographic in the United State and rosé is an increasingly popular choice.

The trend is also evident in the local market, with Foodstuffs New Zealand reporting an almost 60 percent increase in sales last year alone.

It has essentially been rebranded to appeal to a younger generation and is popular with both male and female drinkers. Chris Yorke from New Zealand Winegrowers even coined the phrase ‘brosé’ describing the growing popularity of rosé among males in general.

For the social media entrenched millennials, the pinky hues of rosé make for a photogenic addition to any Instagram posts.

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The Art of Craft

Although price conscious, this consumer group is also value-focussed, seeing value in quality, handcrafted and artisan products. This makes them more likely to purchase premium and craft beverages over mainstream offerings.

The millennial drive to experience new and different flavours was a driving force behind the growing popularity and increased sales of craft beer. Brewers by nature, are always experimenting with new tastes, adding new and innovative products to their brewery inventory, inadvertently appealing to the millennial consumer.

While IPA’s, pilsners and wheat beer continue to be popular, they are not the only brewery inventory piquing the millennial palate. These experience-seeking drinkers also enjoy premium spirits, including single malts and first class Irish whiskeys.

Millennial Behaviour

The drinking habits of millennials while diverse, is strongly correlated to their social activities, whether in peer groups or online communities.

Older millennials often fail to identify with the unanimity that portrays their generation. Many of which were born pre-smart phone and pre-financial crisis. They are generally too busy with careers and young families to be constantly online and even less likely to be ‘Snapping’ their every move.

When trying to understand millennial purchasing behaviours, it is important to consider age groups within this demographic. Those millennials aged between 30 to 38 years are more established and tend to have greater disposable incomes. Their tastes and purchasing habits vary significantly from the younger millennials aged between 18 and 29 years.

For this reason, they should be viewed as two fundamentally distinct groups for market research, targeting activities and new product development.

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Millennials Shaping the Beverage Industry
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