Millennials and Alcohol: Who’s Drinking What?

May 31, 2013

Scarborough-Millennial-Alcohol-Drinkers-May201371% of American adults aged 21 and older drink some type of alcohol, whether that be beer, hard cider, liquor, wine, or wine coolers, and Millennials (21-34) make up 27% of that group, according to [pdf] a study from Scarborough. The researchers, dubbing this group “Shaken and Stirred Millennials,” examine some of their characteristics, as well as their purchasing and media habits. The data reveals that these Millennials are 27% more likely than the average adult (aged 21 and older) to consider themselves sophisticated, 45% more likely to agree that risk-taking is exciting to them, and 44% more likely to agree that they live a lifestyle that impresses others. Seems as though they’re quite self-satisfied…

“Shaken and Stirred Millennials” are also 19% more likely to be employed full-time and 21% more likely to hold white collar employment. 30% have a college degree of higher.

So what types of drinks are these Millennials consuming? According to the report, they favor red and white wine equally, with 28% having purchased each in the past 3 months. Blush or rosé (11%) and champagne or sparkling wine (9%) are less popular.

When it comes to beers, Millennials show a clear preference for domestic lights (44%), and are also slightly more likely to have drank a regular domestic beer (36%) than an import (34%) in the past 30 days. 10% say they’ve purchased a microbrew recently.

Among liquors, vodka (33%) is the popular choice, with rum (22%) and tequila (21%) vying for the second position. More than 1 in 10 have had bourbon and pre-mixed cocktails in the past 30 days.

As it turns out, these Millennials don’t only like drinking alcohol. They’re more than twice as likely as all adults 21+ to have had an energy drink in the 7 days prior to the survey, 21% more likely to have had a soft drink, and 11% more likely to have had a fruit drink. Almost half have had bottled water (12% more likely than all adults 21+), one-third have had tea in a bottle or can (26% more likely), 32% have had a sports drink (52% more likely), and 29% have had a specialty coffee (37% more likely).

So where and how to reach these Millennials? Scarborough’s data shows that this group are:

  • 75% more likely than the average adult (aged 21 and older) to have gone to a comedy club in the past 12 months;
  • More than twice as likely to have attended an R&B/rap/hip-hop concert;
  • 57% more likely to have attended a rock concert;
  • 27% more likely to have visited a pizza restaurant in the past 30 days;
  • 22% more likely to have visited a Mexican restaurant;
  • 18% more likely to have visited a Chinese restaurant;
  • More than twice as likely to have watched Adult Swim and MTV in the past 7 days on TV;
  • 63% more likely to have watched E!;
  • 52% more likely to have watched FX; and
  • Twice as likely to watch reality dating shows and 32% more likely to watch comedies.

So in summary, they like entertainment events, enjoy casual dining, and are likely to watch TV channels slanted to their demographic.

One might expect to find them online, and that’s also true: they over-index for most internet activities, particularly for participation in fantasy sports, watching or downloading movies, and accessing personal ads and dating sites. Of course, a discussion of online activities isn’t complete without the requisite reference to social media. So here it is: Millennials of the shaken and stirred variety are 47% more likely than the average adult 21 and over to spend on average 3 or more hours on social networking sites per day.

So the research shows that Millennial alcoholic beverage consumers are social. New data suggests they might be keen sharers of alcohol ads, according to [download page] a recent study from Unruly. The study indicates that alcohol brands generated almost 5 million social video ad shares in Q1, a gigantic increase from less than 150,000 the previous quarter. Alcohol brands put in such a strong performance that they accounted for almost half of total CPG/FMCG shares, propelling a big quarter for that category.

Unruly’s data shows that beer brands are still tops in alcohol ad shares, accounting for 75.1% of shares in Q1, though that was down from more than 95% in Q4 2012. Wine brands are missing out on all the fun, with just 0.3% share of alcohol ad shares. Spirits leapt to 24.6% share from just 3% the prior quarter, almost entirely as a result of a single campaign from Russian vodka brand, Neft. In fact, just two campaigns (from Budweiser – 59.2% and Neft – 23.9%) combined to account for more than 80% of all shares during Q1. Other brands have some catching up to do.

Other Findings:

  • 9 of the top 10 alcohol videos were long-form. On average, the top 10 ads were 136 seconds long.
  • 13% of “Shaken and Stirred Millennials” are Black, and 19% self-identify as Hispanic.
  • These Millennials are 45% more likely than all adults 21+ to live in a household with 3 or more people aged 17 or under.
  • The top DMAs for “Shaken and Stirred Millennials” (by concentration) are Syracuse, NY; Norfolk, RI; Des Moines, IA; Denver, CO; and El Paso, TX.
  • 13% of these Millennial drinkers have played football in the past 12 months. 21% played basketball and 12% played softball and/or baseball.
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