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Tips to Tap Stronger Adult Beverage Sales


Although grocery stores in several states are still prohibited from selling wine, spirits, and even beer, many state laws are changing allowing for the purchase of an adult beverage right in the store or through a separate entrance. IRI just conducted a cross-generational study on adult beverages and the habits of U.S consumers with a focused eye on the all-important Millennial consumer and uncovering generational differences.

“While everyone is talking about Millennials, don’t lose sight of the Generation Xers and Boomers,” said Chris von der Linden, SVP, consumer and shopper marketing for IRI. “The numbers may vary, but Boomers still represent 45 percent of the category volume and, though they differ in terms of beverage preferences, they share some of the same sentiments as their younger counterparts. The big news from our study was 21 percent of these shoppers changed their minds during the shopping trip. And with Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers making in-store shopping trips more than once a week, there is an opportunity to influence their purchase decisions.”

What the Generations Share

“For all these generations, beer, wine and spirits are the affordable luxury,” said von der Linden. “Across the generations drinking at home outpaced on premise drinking, which is very interesting considering the age differences. And taste takes precedence over price for all generations.”

Things for grocery stores/brands to think about:

Highlight lighter options

There is a desire across generations for lighter products, both calorically and alcohol by volume. Fifty percent of all generations are interested in lighter alternatives. This “lighter” trend is partly about social responsibility (think drunk driving awareness) and partly about health.

Rethink in-store signage

Almost universally, consumers indicated they weren’t seeing the in-store promotional activity. Two-thirds said they paid little attention to in-store displays. “When you consider 40 percent walk in undecided and of the 60 percent who walk in knowing what they want, 21 percent change their mind in the aisle, there is a growing opportunity to influence in-store,” said von der Linden.

Spend time with the design of the label/bottle

Thirty-six percent of Millennials and 30 percent of Gen Xers choose drinks by label/bottle; 12 percent for Seniors and Boomers.

Provide free Wi-Fi

Most stores give the consumer very little wireless reception. Since Millennials over-index for mobile research in-store, having Wi-Fi is paramount for influencing their purchases. But let’s not dismiss the younger Boomers and their need for Wi-Fi or their digital acumen — they are using their phones for price checking. .

Provide more education and inspiration

While not part of the IRI study, Fractl and BuzzStream published a content consumption study and blogs that were the top content read by Millennials, GenX and Boomers. If you think Millennials would top the chart for time spent consuming content, think again. Boomers averaged 20 hours versus 5-10 hours for the Millennial/Gen X generations. We’ve seen an uptick in adult beverage influencer campaigns this year as brands seek to inspire and influence purchase through engaging content and new usage occasions.

While Millennial growth is going to overtake Boomers over the next five to10 years and they share many traits, marketers need a bifurcated strategy to reach both audiences.  



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