Americans Cling to Vices Despite Financial Woes

September 23, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

CPG & FMCG | Retail & E-Commerce

Though consumption in many food, beverage and leisure categories is down, sales for chocolate, cigarettes and alcohol remain strong and steady – despite tough financial times – and are expected to grow in the coming years , according to Mintel.

Historically, these “sin stocks” have performed well during times of recession, and the current economic situation is no exception, Mintel said.


  • The chocolate market is growing quickly, according to Mintel, with retail sales rising 22% from 2002 to 2007 (to $16.3 billion).
  • 67% of respondents in a Mintel survey say they bought chocolate for personal consumption because they had a craving; 36% bought it for themselves as a reward; and 12% bought it because they were sad or depressed.


  • Innovative, dark and premium chocolates are extremely popular. Mintel predicts 4% annual sales increases each year for the next six years.


  • Many smokers aren’t quitting, even as prices and health warnings continue to increase.
  • Cigarette and tobacco product sales increased 44% from 2003 to 2007 (to $103 billion).
  • As price and tax increases continue to take hold, Mintel projects that the cigarette and tobacco market will grow 28% through 2011 (to $132 billion).


  • High gas prices and expensive bar tabs are spurring more Americans to stay at home, but that doesn’t mean they’re drinking less.


  • The market for at-home alcohol is expected to reach $77.8 billion in 2008, a 32% increase from 2003.

“Chocolate, cigarettes and alcohol again seem relatively recession-proof,” said Marcia Mogelonsky, senior analyst at Mintel. “People might be cutting back or switching to store brands, but they definitely aren’t giving up their small daily indulgences.”

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