Purchasing Trends: Millennials and Alcohol


Regardless of what type of alcohol Millennials are drinking, they want it to have a unique flavor. Although Millennials’ favorite alcoholic beverages are smoky, spicy, savory, or strong, this generation also has a sweet tooth, which has helped increase the sales of dessert-flavored vodka. However, this increase in sales will not be enough to top flavored whiskey, which is expected to be one of the Millennial drinks of choice in 2018. Experts suspect that the sudden interest in flavored whiskey was driven by the unexpected popularity of Fireball whiskey, which has a spicy cinnamon flavor.

Millennials love trying new drinks in order to discover different flavors. Alcoholic beverages that draw attention to their hints of flavor, such as vanilla or tobacco, may be able to draw these consumers in better than the competitors. This generation also responds well to exotic flavors that are inspired by food and drinks from other countries.

Craft vs. Big Name Beers

Millennials are looking for high quality beer, and they’re willing to spend more in order to get it. This could be bad news for big beer brands such as Budweiser or Michelob—especially because 44% of Millennials say they have never tried any big domestic brands. Instead, Millennials prefer to pay more for higher quality craft beer. As a matter of fact, this generation consumes more craft beer than any other group of consumers. This shift in demand explains the craft brewery boom that has taken over the nation over the last several years.

Some big brands are hoping to capitalize on this trend by including specific, craft language on their packaging, including words such as “artisanal,” “authentic,” and “hand-labeled.” But, this may not be enough to fool beer-drinking Millennials, who do their research before choosing a beer. Some of the factors that Millennials may consider when making this decision include where the beer was brewed and the brand’s story.

Wine Drinkers

People often associate wine with older adults, however research published in the Wine Spectator showed that Millennials may be the ones who drink the most wine. In 2015, Millennials drank nearly 160 million cases of wine, which accounted for 42% of all wine in the U.S. This generation isn’t necessarily drinking cheap wine, either. Although the average retail cost of a bottle of wine in 2015 was $7.81, nearly one-fifth of Millennial consumers spent over $20 per bottle. This is great news for all wine suppliers—especially because the research showed that wine preferences vary among Millennials. When asked for their favorite wines, Millennials rattled off names of wines from across the globe.

Millennials aren’t just drinking wine—they’re taking the time to learn about this category, too. This generation is using the Internet to learn as much as possible about wines so they can discover new brands and gain a deeper understanding of the category as a whole.

Spreading the Word

Millennials discover new drinks by listening to recommendations from trusted sources, and they aren’t afraid to share their opinions about certain drinks on social media with their followers. Recommendations from friends and family members are the most persuasive, but Millennials aren’t opposed to going online to read reviews written by complete strangers, either. Brands should be aware of this so they can put a greater focus on monitoring their online reputation to prevent a bad review from costing them business.


Research has shown that Millennials are much more health-conscious than older generations and tend to prioritize healthy eating and lifestyle choices. Based on this information, it’s not surprising that many Millennials gravitate towards low calorie spirits and wines.

Even if Millennials don’t choose a low calorie alcoholic beverage, they are still looking for other indicators that the drink is a somewhat healthy choice. For instance, they might look at organic alcohol as a healthier alternative to non-organic alcohol. In fact, research has shown that Millennials view organic alcoholic beverages as higher quality, healthier, fresher, and more authentic than nonorganic drinks.

Alcohol at Events

Millennials want to be able to enjoy their favorite alcoholic beverages at all times, including while they relax at music festivals and other large events. Vendors at these events have traditionally only sold beer and well drinks. But due to a shift in demand sparked by the Millennial generation, event attendees can now enjoy craft cocktails and high-end wines at these events. In fact, some wine brands have even started to feature their entire portfolio of wines at these events in order to please Millennial customers.

This trend shouldn’t come as a surprise since Millennials have always responded well to experiential situations. In fact, industry experts believe that Millennials prefer drinking spirits in a social setting so they can enjoy the experience of watching their craft cocktail being made and drinking an aesthetically pleasing alcoholic beverage. Alcohol suppliers should attempt to capitalize on this trend by planning an experiential marketing activation at a large scale event that attracts Millennials.

Winning over Millennial consumers can greatly benefit your brand, so keep these insights in mind as you plan your marketing strategies. For more consumer insights or for help planning your next experiential marketing activation, contact Factory 360. Schedule a free consultation to discuss your needs with our experienced team of marketers!