Millennials drive restaurant drink trends

By Mark Brandau July 10, 2012
By 2018, all the young consumers in the Millennial demographic group will be of legal drinking age, but the cohort already is having a significant effect on alcoholic beverage trends in the restaurant industry, according to new research from Technomic.

The Chicago-based market research firm found in its study, "Special Trends in Adult Beverage (TAB) Report: Millennial Consumer Insights," that Millennials show a greater willingness to explore new drinks, which is driving a bigger interest among restaurant brands in expanding craft beer platforms, creating signature cocktails with boutique spirits and sourcing more wine with sweeter taste profiles.

"Millennials are absolutely driving some of the biggest trends in adult beverage and will continue to do so for the next few years," David Henkes, Technomic's vice president and leader of its adult beverage practice, said in a statement. "We do see, however, that this is not a homogeneous group. Due to its sheer size and inherent diversity, beverage professionals from suppliers and marketers to retailers and restaurateurs must be very strategic in engaging Millennials in terms of adult beverage occasions and consumption."

Millennial customers are also frequent drinkers, according to Technomic's findings. Eight in 10 survey respondents reported that they had consumed an alcoholic beverage in a bar or restaurant in the past week, while nine in 10 reported drinking one at home in the past week. This group also reported being more adventurous in drink choices and more likely to try a new drink - at either restaurants and bars or at home - than older consumers.

The beverages Millennials tend to consume more often than baby boomers and Generation X include domestic light beer, hard ciders, red blend wines, cocktails and Moscato wines, Technomic found.

When it comes to paying for alcohol, half of Millennial survey respondents said price and variety were much more or somewhat more important for drinks consumed away from home than for drinks consumed at home. Younger Millennials reported being more price-conscious than their peers just a few years older, according to Technomic.