Millennials Are Saying Sayonara to the Big Beer Industry

Millennials are saying sayonara to the big beer industry. Core big domestic beer brands like Budweiser, Miller, and Coors were down 3% in 2017, and have been declining every year since 2011. In fact, for the first time since the 1970s, Budweiser has fallen out of the top 3 best-selling beers. While millennials are passing on big beer brands such as Budweiser, that doesn’t mean they’re drinking less. We take a look into why millennials are moving away from big beer, where they’re headed, and what it means for the future.


Wine used to be considered the go-to drink for a stuffy adult dinner party. Not anymore. According to a new by Wine Market Council, millennials drink 42% of the wine in the U.S., even though they comprise only one-quarter of adults over 21 in the U.S. It’s hip, comes in cans, boxes and single serving packages, and millennials love the variety and ease.


A study of 10,000 drinkers in the U.S. found that 57% of millennials are weekly craft beer drinkers. Domestic beer brand sales have been declining since 2011, which is when craft beer sales grew by an unprecedented 17.9%. Why is this generation so passionate about craft beer? Millennials are very value-conscious, and want to support brands they trust and relate to. Compared to craft beer’s small breweries, the big brands feel inauthentic and corporate.


The light pink wine is definitely having a moment, thanks to millennials. Rosé reached a valuation of $389 million last year, and grew by 53% over 52 weeks. While consumers purchase rose year-round, rosé outpaces all other wines as consumer’s drink of choice for the summer.


MillerCoors is focusing on a new demographic that’s younger than millennials, but old enough to legally drink. The 21-to 24-year-old targets are technically part of the millennial generation, but MillerCoors says there are big differences between millennials and this new generation. “There’s just this more openness versus what we’ve seen with millennials,” said Sofia Colucci, senior director of innovation at MillerCoors. “They’re curious and while they’re pragmatic, they still have this genuine openness to discovering and trying new things.”


A report from Berenberg Research suggests that Generation Z will continue to drive the beer slump down even further. In the study of 6,000 people ages 16-22 across the U.S., they found that Gen Z is drinking 20% less alcohol than the generations before it, and the first generation to prefer spirits to beer. The report says they gravitate toward wine and liquor because they view them as quality products, while beer is seen as inauthentic and unappealing.

QuestionPro Audience provides our clients with access to more than 22 million active respondents, including Millennials, who are strategically recruited to participate in quantitative research and live discussions. By implementing various recruitment methodologies, we make sure to provide the right kinds of respondents for your research. With industry knowledge and innovative tools, QuestionPro Audience always meets the rigorous demands of our clients. Contact us for your next research project:


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