The Illuminist Blog

4 Ways Millennials Have Changed the Alcoholic Beverage Industry

Posted by Jason Hammond on November 06, 2015


The habits and behaviors of millennials are having a tremendous affect on how we do business. Learn how the attitudes toward alcohol are shifting the industry.

1. They buy alcoholic beverages based on the whole brand image.
Unlike previous generations, millennials are looking for something beyond a great tasting beverage. What brand they choose to drink is a reflection of themselves. They want to feel like an active participant in the brand story. The aesthetic appeal of a product is just as important as the product itself, and the story behind it is what draws millennials in.

2. They value authenticity.
Personal, story and authentic–the key characteristics millennials are looking for in a beverage. This can be exemplified by the take off of craft beer. “Sales of craft beer reached an estimated $20 billion in 2014, doubling the sales level of just five years ago, and the segment is expected to reach $36.3 billion by 2019.” (Mintel Food and Drink Analyst, Beth Bloom) A major part of the rise of craft beers is due to millennials. Craft beer offers something more personal because it is traditionally independently owned and made in smaller batches. The unique, one of a kind beverage resonants with millennials because they feel it is personally made for them. Their value-driven tendencies, inspire them to discover alcoholic beverages with a story, heritage, and a handcrafted feel, not another mass produced product. 

3. They are adventurous and experimental with flavors.
Nearly two-thirds of millennial consider themselves adventurous, (American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation) and this is reflective in their food and beverage choices. They are seeking out innovative flavors that offer drinking “experiences.” Ethnic and exotic flavors from hot sauces to floral flavors have found their way into a growing number of drinks, largely thanks to the diverse taste buds of millennials. This is in addition to the growing diversity in this younger generation. As the most diverse generation ever, millennial have grown up with much more variety of flavors than their parents. 

4. They want their experience to be shareable.
The power of photo-heavy social media sites allow beverages to become a unique experience to be shared. Millennials are constantly trying to find ways to share their purchases and experiences. Alcoholic beverages that can bring more than just a great tasting beer, wine or spirit to the table will do more than bring millennial consumers in, it will create brand loyalists.

So what does this mean for your alcohol brand?
Share your story–get millennials involved with what makes your brand authentic and unique. Show them why your brand stands apart from others. Pull them in with experiences, whether it is bringing brand ambassadors to local restaurants and bars to offer a more robust drinking experience or creating an outlet for your consumers to share their photos and experiences of your brand online. It is important to understand how Millennials are changing the alcohol industry and that a great tasting drink is no longer the only criteria.

Putting these learnings into action:
How does an American brandy that’s never advertised but has been voted “the best distilled spirit in the world” raise brand awareness among the next generation of spirit enthusiasts? Check out our work for Germain Robin.

To learn more about Millennials's change in thinking, check out The Millennial Shift.


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Topics: Millennials, Food & Beverage