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Beer is Favorite Alcohol Category Overall But Spirits Winning Among Women and Age 21-27, Study Shows

PRLog (Press Release) – Nov. 20, 2012 – A recent survey  of alcohol consumer behaviors in the United States showed that while beer may be by far the most popular alcoholic beverage category in terms of per capita consumption, what consumers name as their favorite category of alcoholic beverage is different from actual consumption, and consumers’ favorite category varies significantly across different demographic groups.

Overall, 39% of alcohol consumers name beer as their favorite category, followed by spirits at 31%, wine at 25%, flavored malt beverages at 4%, and alcoholic cider at 1%.  This compares to beer/cider/flavored malt beverages capturing 53% of servings of alcohol in the US in 2011, spirits capturing 31% and wine 16% on an equivalent –servings basis (according to industry data analyzed by Consumer Edge Research).

There is a wide gender gap when it comes to alcoholic beverage preferences, according to the Consumer Edge Insight survey.  Among all men, beer is by far their favorite alcoholic beverage with 50%, while 29% name spirits. 17% name wine, 3% name flavored malt beverages and 1% name cider.  Among women, wine grabs the number one spot with 36% naming it as their favorite, followed closely by spirits with 33%. Beer falls into a distant third-place among women with 24%, followed by flavored malt beverages with 9% and cider with 1%.

Younger alcoholic beverage drinkers have very different preferences than older people.  For 21-27 year olds, a key target for many alcoholic beverage producers, spirits beats beer as the favorite by a narrow margin, 36% to 34%, with wine at 19%, flavored malt beverages at 9% and cider at 3%. Beer is the most preferred category among 28-34 and 35-54 year olds, by 46% and 44% respectively, by a wide margin over spirits and wine in those age groups.  But for people age 55 and older. their preferences show a three-way tie with wine, spirits and beer each being named by about 33%.

Looking at different racial and ethnic groups, Caucasians favor beer over other categories by a wider margin, with 35% naming beer as their favorite, followed by spirits (30%), wine (26%), and flavored malt beverages (4%). Hispanics like beer and spirits about equally, 34% and 33% respectively, while 27% name wine and 5% name flavored malt beverages. African-Americans also like beer and spirits equally, 35% for each, with 20% naming wine and 7% naming flavored malt beverages.

“While beer is still the most-consumed and is the favorite alcoholic beverage of the most people, there are reasons for brewers to worry.” said David Decker, President, Consumer Edge Insight.  “The large gender gap in preferences is not new, but is a key issue that needs to be addressed. And the bad news is that young adults age 21-27 are more likely to prefer spirits to beer. The fast-growing Hispanic group also has a less strong preference for beer.  Targeting these groups with relevant marketing and product innovation will be critical for the beer category to maintain its consumption advantage.  And the high number of people who name wine as their favorite alcoholic beverage category suggests that category is likely to continue to grow”


Alcoholic Beverage DemandTracker provides an in-depth analysis of the key economic and attitudinal factors impacting alcoholic beverage demand. Data for the most recent wave of Alcoholic Beverage DemandTracker was collected in June via an online survey of over 2,500 US consumers, age 21 and over, designed and weighted to be representative of the US adult alcohol-drinking population.  Some of the topics addressed include drivers of change in alcohol category consumption, the impact of economic factors and secular trends on overall alcohol consumption and by category, channel behaviors, ways to increase category consumption, and numerous brand metrics.  The research covers the beer, spirits, wine, cider, and flavored-malt beverage categories including the largest brands in each category.