The Alcoholic Beverage Opportunity: Understanding Boomer And Millennial Shopping Behavior

Understanding what drives shoppers to the store—and why they make the choices they do—is foundational when it comes to gaining a complete view of today’s consumer. This is particularly relevant in the $37 billion U.S. beer market, where category shopping fundamentals data can help marketers understand what influences shoppers to make the decisions they do, which is critical in planning assortment, marketing and activation efforts.

Given the growing spending influence that Millennials have, a recent category shopping fundamentals study delved into how impulsive their shopping behaviors are when it comes to alcoholic beverages. And possibly surprising to some, the study found that Millennials are not the most impulsive shopper group when it comes to alcoholic beverage purchases. In fact, according to an October Nielsen survey, 18% of Baby Boomers who bought adult libations in the past 30 days had made an impulse purchase, compared to only 11% of Millennials. At the same time, 16% of Millennials said that it wasn’t until they were in the store that they “recalled” the need to make a purchase.  Comparatively, the majority of Millennials and Boomers say they plan their alcoholic beverage purchases before they shop.

When comparing Millennial and Boomer shopping differences, the study results showed largest distinction pertained to the degree to which each generation has a specific brand in mind for their planned purchases. This is likely due to a combination of degree of experience with alcoholic beverages that comes with age, as well as the differentiated nature of generational attitudes and behaviors. More than half the time (52%) Boomers make a shopping trip knowing which brand they plan to purchase, compared with less than a quarter (24%) of Millennials. As Millennials have fewer planned brands in minds when heading to the store, it leaves ample opportunity for retailers and suppliers to influence their in-store purchases.

In looking at specific libations, Millennials plan their Champagne purchases more than their table wine or any other alcohol purchases. In fact, when it comes to brand-specific shopping, 27% of Millennials know what Champagne brand they will be purchasing versus only 21% of wine.

Millennials also use word-of-mouth, previous purchase experiences and research to help plan their wine and Champagne purchases. Almost half, 43%, of Millennials depend on previous experiences to inform their decisions, compared with 71% of Boomers, which again, leaves plenty of room for retailers, marketers and suppliers to influence Millennials’ shopping behavior

Boomers and Millennials represent two of the largest consumer groups in the U.S., and that means understanding what influences their alcoholic beverage purchases will help retailers, suppliers and manufacturers offer the right in-store assortment and execute the right marketing strategies to help influence undecided shoppers. Planning and engagement options can boost pre- and in-store activation efforts, and understanding the dollar impact of each option can help marketers understand which points in the path to purchase are most important to intercept shoppers. And with those insights, they’ll know which marketing levers are most influential in reaching shoppers.

You might also be interested in reading our recent white paper: How Alcohol Brands Can Tap the eCommerce Opportunity.