Millennials or Generation Y are those that fall within the 18-34 year old demographic. They are radically changing the makeup of the beverage space, in particular the alcoholic beverage market. In the U.S. this market has over $211.6 billion in annual sales. Millennials of legal age, though only representing a quarter of adults over 21, account for 35 percent of U.S. beer consumption and 32 percent of spirit consumption according to Nielson. The Wine Market Council reports that they consume 42 percent of all wine in the U.S. The unique ways that millennials are drinking is certainly driving new trends.
Millennials often tend to look at what they are consuming. They have become more health and nutrition conscious. Millennials’ shopping habits are different at retail as well. They are looking to spend more on organic and natural products, perhaps leading the way in that overall trend. At the same time, they are cutting back on soda, which has been experiencing problems in recent years. Millennials are much more likely to value features such as “GMO-free” and “locally sourced” compared with their older counterparts. Many millennials also feel more responsible or health conscious if they buy products with these features and benefits, and a similar percentage said seeing those features and benefits would make them more likely to buy the product.
One advantage the millennial generation has is technology. With a smartphone in hand, almost anything is possible with a few swipes of the finger. On any given day, more than 65 percent of millennials engage on social media, so while a millennial might drink alone, he or she is more inclined to tell the whole world about it! Of millennials who drink wine, according to the Wine Market Council, over 50 percent talk about it on Facebook, and more than a third do on YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. Millennials are just as digitally sociable about their experiences with beer and hard liquor too.
Millennials also listen to what both peers and experts have to say about alcohol products. About 60 percent consider wine reviews as extremely important, compared to about 20 percent of baby boomers. They value the opinions of their peers more than previous generations, and actually trust the opinions of strangers when reviewing products. They are a generation of comparison shoppers who compare prices online and read reviews. They also do this when they are examining something they would like to buy in a retail store.
When purchasing the perfect brew, millennials are value-conscious; they look for value and use coupons. However, they are also after quality. According to Nielson’s alcohol surveys, a large percentage of millennials reject mainstream alcohol beverages, fuelling the rising popularity of handcrafted, artisanal, microbrewery, small batch, single barrel and single malt alcohol products. Over 40 percent of millennials view price with quality, while only 27 percent of their older counterparts do. This trend seems to be apparent in wine sales. Last year, the Wine Market Council suggested 37 percent of high-frequency wine drinkers purchased at least one bottle of wine over $20 per week.
Millennials have changed not only how we talk about things, but how we buy things. That is so true of alcohol. Starbucks now offers wine, and there are bookstores, movie theatres and even car washes that offer wine. With technological advances, there are now companies such as Drizly and Minibar that will deliver alcohol directly to you in less than an hour.