Millennials and Alcohol: 4 Purchasing Trends

Mar. 29, 2017

Did you know the youngest millennial is now of legal drinking age?


That is good news to early-20-something millennials—and even better news for those in the alcohol industry, as millennials represent quite possibly the most powerful, and influential, buyer of booze today. Wine Spectator reports that millennials consumed more wine in recent years than any other generation—42% of all wine drunk to be exact. Furthermore, The Drinks Business predicts that millennials will represent 50% of the wine and spirits buying population within the next eight years. And let’s not forget about beer. Namely, craft beer. Millennials are driving the majority of all craft beer sales, according to The Brewers Association.


The bar is stocked with numerous potential consumers for alcohol brands. The real challenge for them now is to cut through the crowded marketplace and attract the millennials’ attention, affection, and most importantly—the almighty dollar.


We discovered four trending traits millennial consumers are looking for from their favorite alcohol brands that today’s suppliers should consider as they look to tap into millennial’s growing spending power.


Quality vs. Quantity

  • Millennials are willing to spend more for higher-quality drinks
  • 44% of millennials have never tried big domestic beer brands
  • Craft is king
    • For instance, the Chicago Tribune reports on the city’s “Craft Distillery Revolution”—zero to 17 in 14 years.
  •  “Big brands” are now marketing themselves with craft language, including:
    • Handpicked
    • Hand-labeled
    • Artisanal
    • Authentic
    • Super-Premium


Craving Unique Flavor Profiles

  • Millennials enjoy unique flavors in their drinks, especially whiskey
  • Flavored-spirits represent an easy entry into a broader category
  • According to International Wine and Spirits Research’s Brandy Rand:
    • In 2018, flavored whiskey expected to outperform flavored vodka
    • Top flavors: smoky, spicy, savory, strong
    • Next popular flavored spirit: tequila


Word of Mouth

“How can you tell what a millennial drinks? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.” –

  • Breakthru’s Fine Wine Specialist Jeff Anderson says loyalty to well-known, established brands isn’t always in play with millennials
    • “They are adventurous—they want to try new things, especially when they are recommended from a trusted source,” said Anderson. “What this means for our customers—especially on-premise [bars/restaurants]—is that the staff needs to be able to expertly speak to the portfolio, serving the consumer a compelling, but digestible recommendation tailored to the individual.”


The Experience

  • Millennials desire not only a memorable experience with their favorite brands, but they’re demanding high-quality cocktails at events.
    • Millions of millennials attend summer festivals every year, and these events, which typically serve beer, well drinks and other high-volume favorites, are now serving craft cocktails—including Life is Beautiful and Lollapalooza.
  • Wine brands are delivering full bars to festivals, featuring their entire portfolio.
    • This is a result of consumers pouring into tasting rooms/taprooms so they can sample a wide variety of flavors and expressions.  


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