Putting Together the Beer Puzzle: Do Young Drinkers Impact Our Choices?

millennials-beer-variety-part 2

This week I’m delving into a three-part series to better understand the shifting beer landscape. Part 1 was on the importance of two consumer groups.

On Monday, I wrote about two demographics that are set to play an increasingly important role for beer marketers – Hispanics and women.

Today, it’s time to discuss the group that overlaps them and plays one of the most important roles in the shifting beer landscape: Millennials.

Yes, we’ve talked about Millennials before and come to all sorts of conclusions: they spur the “drink local” movement, they won’t buy into Big Beer marketing as easily and their lifestyle caters to the idea of craft beer. This isn’t a rehash of all that, I promise.

When it comes to future planning for marketing and production, Millenials are unique in their laissez-faire attitude toward brand loyalty. Millennials as consumers represent the core of what drives a key part of the industry today: variety.

Craft beers appear to be the biggest beneficiaries of that adventurous character. Julia Herz, craft beer program director for the Brewers Association, says 46% of new craft beer drinkers are Millennials. Even when craft beer drinkers do “commit” to a brand, that “adventurous” character seems to mean they’re still interested in variety.

… and for breweries small and large, that seems to be pointing in one direction.

Take a look around your favorite local watering hole – whether it be a bar, restaurant or brewery. What do you see? Variety. Yes, everyone’s got an IPA, but the lineup of options can sometimes be staggering. In today’s service industry, it’s simply good business practice to have a wide selection of beers, which turns into sales.

Millennials, ages 18 to 33, offer the largest consumer demographic for beer, which is why craft beer plays well to their interests with a constantly rotating number of new beers. Millennial drinking habits, which mirror and influence other demographics, help to force a constantly evolving, diversifying strategy from beer makers.

beer variety
Via blogs.ubc.ca

Why is that? Well… “discovery of new beers is popular with 93 percent of imported beer drinkers, 88 percent of domestic fans and 84 percent of craft beer consumers.”

New breweries and new beers are popping up all over and seem to fit into a strategy that seems to cater to “the more the merrier.” It certainly helps that Millennials, craft beer’s biggest consumer base, demands more variety than ever and this is showing up not just in our bars, restaurants and breweries, but in the stores where we buy our beer.

I don’t know about you, but mixed 12-packs are starting to take up a lot of shelf space where I shop. The Sam Adams mixed pack we have become so accustomed to see now has lots of neighbors. SweetWater’s “Tackle Box” variety pack sales grew 215 percent from 2012 to 2013. Sierra Nevada (finally) released its first variety pack – of IPAs, of course. Hell, even Paulaner now has a “Best of Munich” variety six-pack.

When it comes to beer, it’s good to play the field. In 2012, variety packs accounted for 19 percent of craft beer’s sales growth, a number that certainly will grow as more breweries release their own 12-packs, like the first by Cisco, announced this week.

We’ve reached the point where “craft beer drinkers have come to expect breweries to produce multiple beers rather than a single iconic product.” Once again, it’s all those damned Millennials’ fault!

Even more so, consider this:

… beer represented 44 percent of all new alcoholic product launches [in 2013], up from 15 percent in 2009, according to the study. From 2012 to 2013, the number of beer product launches surged by 113 percent.

The study added that ‘limited-edition’ offerings were among the most popular new releases, increasing 850 percent from 2010-2013.

It seems women aren’t the only consumer group who are increasingly interested in “finding new flavors.

You can also think about it like this:

In addition to offering an array of products to try, this all provides a sense of rarity and novelty around a selection of beers, which also offers an impact of feeling special because you’re a part of something new and unique.

… and what demographic stereotypically wants nothing more than that!?

I’ll wrap up my puzzle this week with a source of beer sales you may not think about, but can’t be overlooked.

Putting Together the Beer Puzzle series

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac


12 thoughts on “Putting Together the Beer Puzzle: Do Young Drinkers Impact Our Choices?

  1. I didn’t fit this in the greater text, but thought it was an important point, brought up by Jeff at Beervana regarding Widmer’s latest release, Upheaval IPA.

    It takes a lot of time, effort and money to create new products, so if they’re created, it makes sense that a company will want another avenue to maximize exposure. This could lead to the further creation of variety packs, because breweries can easily use a secondary avenue to sell a new beer that would otherwise just sell in its own, individual six-pack.

    I’d be remiss if I also didn’t point out the way Sam Adams handles their variety packs, mixing the idea of novelty/rarity with seasonal-only releases mixed in with their standard, year-round offerings.

  2. Pingback: youth72

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close