Beer consumption numbers show the subtle decrease in beer’s alcohol market share, losing ground to wine and spirits. Reports on the subject have noted most of that ground was lost by the mainstream, lighter brands of Big Beer, while craft beer has actually increased amid the overall category losses.
A new Alcoholic Beverage DemandTracker survey dug into today’s popular flavors. Conducted by Consumer Edge, this periodic alcohol demand survey polled U.S. adults age 21 and over who consume any type of alcohol at least once a week or more. These results show that beer is losing ground in terms of which alcoholic beverage category is most likely to be considered someone’s “favorite.”
The beer declines in this survey came mostly from men. Fifty-one percent of men described beer as their favorite category in September 2013 vs. 54 percent last year. Interestingly, beer is making strides among women: 26 percent of women in the survey named beer as their favorite alcoholic beverage in September 2013 vs. only 24 percent last year.
Those increased percentages could be do in part to the craft beer industry, as women are more likely than men to say they were drinking more beer due to “finding new brands” (39 percent of women vs. 36 percent men) and “finding new flavors” (38 percent of women vs. 31 percent of men).[Editor’s Side Note: I was out to eat with a few friends at Willoughby Brewing Co. over the weekend, and one of the women in the group ordered wine, saying she doesn’t really like beer. Knowing she was a big coffee drinker, I made her try my Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter. You could see the amazement take hold. “Wow, I didn’t know beer could taste like that.” Small anecdote, but I think illustrative of the opportunities present for craft breweries in today’s market.]
“Our latest consumer research reveals some serious warning signs but also a few bright spots for the beer industry,” said David Decker, President of Consumer Edge Insight. “While the category is seeing a decline in affinity among the two groups of consumers that the beer industry has long-considered its primary targets, men and 21-27 year olds, the good news is that the beer category is seeing gains among the two groups that it has long-struggled to reach, women and older drinkers. However, the lower per capita alcohol consumption among females and those who are age 55+ means that the beer industry needs to keep working hard to restore the strong affinity to the beer category among men and young adult drinkers.”
Looking at the favorite beverage trend by age, beer is losing the most share among 21 to 27 year olds —33 percent in September 2013 compared to 39 percent in September 2012 — and 35 to 54 year olds — 41 percent in September 2013 compared to 47 percent in September 2012.
But beer is gaining share among beer drinkers who are age 55 and above (38 percent compared to 31 percent year over year). Beer is holding share among 28 to 34 year olds, with 42 percent of them saying that beer is their favorite category in both September 2013 and September 2012.
What would be the driving force behind some of this erosion in beer as a preferred drink? Thirty-nine percent of 21 to 27 year olds consuming less beer said they are “getting tired of the taste of beer.” Consumer Edge said some of this can be attributed to a normal seasonal pattern where beer consumption drops off after its summer peak, however the group said this attitude is more prevalent this year than in September 2012 when 32 percent of those drinking less beer cited this as a reason why.
Other reasons that consistently popped up were “consuming more of other types of alcohol” and “trying to lose weight.” (Or maybe it is the marketing?)
Overall in September, 39 percent of alcohol consumers named beer as their favorite category, followed by wine at 30 percent, spirits at 28 percent, flavored malt beverages at 4 percent, and alcoholic cider at 1 percent. Compared to September 2012, beer has lost 2 percentage points at the expense of the other alcohol categories.
Alcoholic Beverage DemandTracker data was collected in September via an online survey of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers, age 21 and over, designed and weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult alcohol-drinking population. Some of the topics addressed include drivers of change in alcohol category consumption, the impact of economic factors and secular trends on overall alcohol consumption and by category, channel behaviors, ways to increase category consumption, and numerous brand metrics. The research covers the beer, spirits, wine, cider, and flavored-malt beverage categories including the largest brands in each category.
Consumer Edge Insight LLC is a market research and consulting firm that helps investors and companies that want to have deeper insight into how consumer behavior is changing around the world and how to profit from those changes.