Want to Boost Beer and Wine Sales? Target this Generation

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The quest to give as many guests as possible what they want to keep them coming back to a bar or restaurant can pull us in many different directions.

Take decoding what different generations want to drink, for instance. Do drink preferences really vary significantly from generation to generation?

One way to figure out the answer to that question is to track off-premise and online alcohol sales. After all, while guests not be as brand loyal as they once were, evidence suggests they're loyal to types of beverage alcohol.

Just a few months ago, Drizly sought to learn more about consumer purchasing habits. From April through June of this year, the alcohol e-commerce brand surveyed more than 13,600 legal-drinking-age Americans.

Studies like these are important because they often yield unexpected results. For instance, people likely assume Millennials are the generation most interested in staying on top of drinking trends and craft beer. There's no shortage of posts declaring craft beer the domain of fickle Millennial hipsters.

Drizly found, however, that LDA Gen Zers are more interested in drinking trends and craft beer than Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers. Nearly half of Gen Z respondents (47 percent) want to learn more about craft beer, compared to 38 percent of Millennials and 29 percent of Gen Xers and Boomers. Drizly interprets this interest in craft beer two ways.

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First, that Gen Z’s interest in gaining more knowledge about craft beer means the category may have a better future than has been reported and predicted. The second interpretation is that the sheer number of beer styles now available to consumers is causing confusion, leading to a lack of purchasing confidence. Time will tell if either or both interpretations are correct.

Gen Z is also the most interested in learning more about wine, according to Drizly’s survey results. Almost all Gen Z respondents (94 percent) said they want more wine information so they can make informed purchases.

In comparison, 71 percent of Millennials said the same. Most Gen Xers and Boomers also want to obtain more wine knowledge, with 61 percent indicating as much.

There’s a lot of talk about online and app-based bar and restaurant business disruptors, particularly delivery. Drizly is, of course, one such disruptor. Beverage alcohol e-commerce is said to be enjoying a growth rate of 40 percent. Clearly, alcohol delivery is an industry disruptor with staying power.

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Interestingly, though, Drizly’s survey revealed that most Americans who have bought alcohol online prefer to purchase it in a physical store. This preference isn’t characteristic of a particular generation—it spans age groups. It turns out that people are indeed still leaving their homes to make alcohol purchases.

Speaking of alcohol purchases, all generations expressed an interest in obtaining more knowledge in order to make informed choices. But Drizly’s survey results showed that a very small percentage of respondents are interested in trying something new on a regular basis.

Most LDA Americans—60 percent, according to Drizly—drink the same type of alcohol most or all of the time. Just four percent of Gen Xers and Boomers are open to trying to something new on a regular basis. That number creeps up to six percent for Millennials and Gen Z.

That doesn’t mean consumers aren’t paying attention to new drinking trends. LDA Americans do want to know what’s new and what’s hot. Almost half of Gen Z survey respondents (49 percent) keep track of drinking trends, compared to 40 percent of Millennials and 31 percent of Gen Xers and Boomers.

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So, while it’s important to add new products to menus, chasing every new product could be a mistake. Consumers want to know what’s new, but they’re going to stick with what’s familiar—people like consistency. It’s important to avoid conflating offering new experiences with trying to sell guests new menu items.

Still, if you come across some new wines or beers, make informed decisions—about both the products and what you've learned about your guests—and offer them to the Gen Zers at your bar or tables.

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