Alcohol, Millennials and Gen-Z

There's a lot of conflicting information about Millennials and their alcohol habits. One survey claims they can't afford to drink due to all their student loans and housing costs. Another report says they drink expensive alcohol. One article claims they are too health-conscious to drink much. What's the real story?

To find out, The Florida House Experience surveyed 1,021 Millennials across the country about their drinking habits. Here are some of the results:

Almost a quarter of Millennial women prefer red wine (23%). One-fifth prefer white wine. In total, almost one-half prefer some type of wine (47%). Nearly one-fifth prefer beer (19%). Vodka comes in fourth place at 9%.

For male Millennials, a cold-brew is their clear choice with almost one-half preferring beer (47%). Red wine and whiskey are basically tied at 12% each. As with the women, vodka comes in fourth place.

Alcohol can be expensive. When it comes to wine, Vivino, a wine retailer, finds the average cost of a bottle of white wine is $14.41, while for red wine it's $15.66.

So how much are Millennials spending for a bottle of wine? The most popular price is in the $11-$15 range. When it comes to splurging on a more expensive bottle, men are far more willing then women. When it comes to buying wine in the $26-$30 price range, 62% are men versus 38% are women. And for wine costing $30 or more a bottle, almost three-quarters of buyers are men (72%) versus only 28% are women.

Alcohol, as well as often being expensive, comes with health risks and can get you in all types of trouble. So why do Millennials drink? The survey found the top reason was for fun with 70% of men and 60% of women citing that reason. The second reason was to be social. Liking the taste of alcohol only came in third.

It ends up that although Millennials are clearly alcohol drinkers, they are being careful on how much they drink. A recent survey by Eventbrite in the U.K., where Millennial culture is very similar to that in the U.S., found that 90% of Millennials (age 21-37) say getting drunk is uncool and about a quarter consider it pathetic and embarrassing when someone has had too much to drink. It appears that Millennials are more prone to brag about not drinking rather than how much they can down. Some experts believe this shows a generational shift, with Millennials being comfortable to talk about their problems rather than turn to booze. Others see it as a reaction to seeing their parents boozing it up. Eventbrite says one reason for their drop in drinking is that they want to enjoy and remember the moment, the experience more.

The survey found that rather than spending their money on booze, clean-living Millennials would rather spend their money on wellness and food festivals; they are more into food than alcohol these days. Two-thirds of respondents said they would rather spend their last $10 on a food truck snack than a drink.

In fact, a November 2016 survey by the Barna Group found that 35% of Millennials never drink, higher than the 32% average for all adults or for any other generation.

Along with Millennials, research recently published in the Child Development journal analyzed seven large surveys of 8.3 million 13- to 19-year-olds over the 40 years 1976-2016 and found that Generation Z are drinking less than in the past. Among eighth graders alcohol consumption has dropped 59%. It has dropped 9% among college students and is down 7% for young adults.

Implications for CLVs

In addition to offering a good selection of traditional beer, wine and spirits, CLVs today need to also offer a good selection of low-alcohol and non-alcoholic cocktails and other mixed drinks.