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6 Characteristics of Millennial Beer Drinkers You Need to Know

As brewers and distributors, we all seek to appeal to the millennials, who make up about 25 percent of the total U.S. population and the entirety of the coveted 21-35 year-old beer drinkers segment.

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, include those who were born in the 1980s through the early 2000s. They have spent their entire lives with access to the Internet and a smartphone in their pocket, and they have developed a new set of criteria to determine products they support.

Traditional advertising is often viewed as spin and inauthentic by millennials, so brands are hard at work finding new ways to speak to these consumers. Here are six facts your craft beer business should know about connecting with millennials.

1. Millennials define craft as small, independent, high quality and local.

  • Top three terms associated with “craft”: “small independent company”; “small batch production”; and “handcrafted.”3
  • Reasons for drinking more craft: better quality, more variety, consistent availability on-premise, more flavor options and more seasonal offerings; on draught, price and complements food are other key criteria.3
  • “Locally made” continues to gain importance to craft beer millennials.3

2. Millennials connect digitally with friends and companies.

  • Millennials increasingly turn to their social media network to guide purchasing decisions: 34 percent of consumers respond positively to “When a brand uses social media, I like that brand more.”2
  • Recommendations from family and friends are the number one deciding factor when making purchasing decision (social media, word of mouth).2
  • 62 percent of millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer.2
  • They want to co-create products with companies; 42 percent are interested in helping companies develop future products and services.2

3. Millennials seek strong value, not always lower cost.

  • Millennials have less disposable income due to lower employment, reduced income and increased student loan debt.3
  • Flavor (99 percent) and freshness (94 percent) are the top two factors when choosing a craft beer to purchase.4
  • Craft beer is viewed as an affordable luxury.3

4. Millennials value experiences over physical products.

  • Many are delaying commitments such as house purchase, marriage, kids until later in life.2
  • Instead of recognizing a brand by a name or a logo, millennials find true value in the experiences they co-create with the brand.3
  • 61 percent of females 21-34 drink craft beer with food more now that a couple years ago.3
  • Millennials love brands that support their local communities and would rather purchase from them than competitors: 75 percent said it’s important a company gives back to society instead of just making a profit.2

5. Millennials live an active, healthy and balanced lifestyle.

  • 61 percent of weekly craft drinkers say they always or often drink craft beer with food.
  • Active lifestyle: Health is becoming more important (i.e., eating right, exercising, not falling sick, maintaining healthy weight).5

6. Millennials are adventurous.

  • More than 69 percent of millennials consider themselves adventurous. They are loyal to brands that provide experiences they cannot get in their everyday lives.3
  • Millennial males purchase a craft brand that they have never heard of or seen advertised 47 percent of the time.3
  • Among weekly craft drinkers, millennials try 5.1 different brands per month. 15 percent try 10 plus brands per month. Brewers need to offer a broad variety of beers to keep the consumer within your portfolio.3

The most successful distributors in the years ahead will be the ones who focus their efforts on partnering with craft brewers who are high quality, strong in their home markets, innovative and unique, engaging socially/digitally with consumers on daily basis and, perhaps most importantly, authentic.

As this great industry continues to grow, distributors and brewers should continue pushing each other to get better—not just bigger—so we can continue providing the best beers in the world to thirsty drinkers throughout the U.S.

1Source: Forbes “10 New Findings About The Millennial Consumer” with data collected by Elite Daily, the voice of Generation Y
2Source: Association of National Advertisers, Barkley, SMG, BCG
3Source: Nielsen Getting Inside the Mind of the Craft Consumer 7/23/15
5Source: What’s your Health Survey, Aetna 2013