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The Economy

Momentive Study: Adult Beverages

Momentive Study: Adult Beverages

Key findings:

  • Fewer Americans are shopping for their alcohol in stores during the pandemic, a trend likely to continue even after the pandemic
  • Gen Z and Millenials are especially eager to drink out in person once restaurants and bars reopen
  • Younger consumers are more willing to try out new alcoholic drinks, gravitating toward hard seltzer, rosé, tequila, and rum

Decline of in-store alcohol purchases likely to persist after the pandemic

Purchases of alcohol declined throughout the pandemic as stay-at-home orders and stores were temporarily shuttered. One in three (34%) drinking-age adults say they are purchasing less alcohol compared to before the pandemic, and Gen Zers and Millennials are cutting back more on their purchases than older generations (42% vs 29%).

Predictably, in-store purchases see a similar trend, with more than one in five (22%) Americans saying they are going to the store less often to purchase alcohol. Among those who are making fewer trips to the store, three-quarters (74%) plan to continue to make fewer trips even once the pandemic subsides. Driven by younger consumers, alternative channels saw a minor uptick in usage throughout Covid-19, including alcohol delivery services (3%), online purchases of alcohol (4%), and alcohol subscription services (2%). 

Local liquor stores, grocery stores, and restaurants look to remain as the top destinations for alcohol purchases after the pandemic, despite the change in consumer preference for in-store purchases.

  • 42% say they will purchase alcohol at their local liquor store once the pandemic subsides
  • 40% say they will purchase at grocery stores
  • 22% say they will purchase at restaurants

Younger consumers itching to drink out once restaurants and pubs open up

The majority (64%) of Americans prefer to drink at home, rather than outside the home. However, appetite for going out to drink is increasing, as nearly one in four (23%) say they plan on drinking less at home once restaurants and bars open up. Consumers aged 18-34 are especially eager to do so, compared with those aged 35-64 and 65+ (30% vs 23% and 14%).

Once restaurants and bars open up, do you plan on continuing to drink more or less at home than during the pandemic?

Gen Z and Millennials thirsty for variety

When it comes to American’s favorite type of beverage, beer (30%) slightly edges out wine (26%) and liquor (24%). Nearly one in five (18%), prefer non-alcoholic beverages.

  • Beer and wine are equally popular among Gen Z and Millennials (28%)
  • Beer is the overwhelming favorite among Gen X (38%)
  • Wine is most preferred among Boomers and the Silent Generation  (34% and 33% respectively)
  • Women prefer wine (37%) over liquor (21%), beer (18%), and non-alcoholic drinks (24%)
  • Men by far prefer beer (42%) over liquor (28%), wine (17%),  and non-alcoholic drinks 

Among consumers who prefer beer as their beverage of choice, light beer leads all other types of beer, with nearly half (47%) saying they prefer the beverage, with lager at a distant second (19%) and IPA third (13%). 

Preferred Drink

  • Millennials are slightly less keen on light beer (38%), preferring less popular beers compared with Gen X or Boomers, including IPA (18%), ales (9%) and hard seltzers (7%).
  • Lager and IPAs are more popular among men (21% and 14% for men, vs. 13% and 10% for women), while seltzer is more desired among women (9% vs. 1%)

Among those who prefer to drink wine, Moscato (22%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (13%) lead all other wines as consumers’ favorite wines. Rosé, however, is second after Moscato (13% and 22% respectively) among Gen Zers and Millennials.

  • Preference for moscato is mostly due to women (27% vs. 14% for men), while cabernet sauvignon due to men (23% vs. 8% for women)

Those who prefer to drink liquor, favor Vodka (26%) and Bourbon (23%), ahead of Tequila (14%) and Rum (11%).

  • While Vodka ranks first among Gen Z and Millennials (28%), Tequila, Bourbon, and Rum are equally popular among this group (17%, 15%, and 14% respectively).
  • Bourbon ranks first among Gen X (31%) followed by Vodka (21%), while these two drinks are tied among Boomers (27% and 29%)
  • Bourbon is also the leading liquor for men (31%), while more women prefer vodka (32% vs 21%), tequila (18% vs 11%), and rum (16% vs 8%).

Consumers who prefer non-alcoholic beverages most prefer soda (20%), followed by tea (17%), juice (13%), and carbonated water (12%).

Top 3 Most Preferred Beverage

BeerWineLiquorNon-alcoholic
47% Light Beer22% Moscato26% Vodka20% Soda
19% Lager13% Cabernet Sauvignon23% Bourbon17% Tea
13% IPA8% Red blend / Pinot Noir14% Tequila13% Juice

Younger consumers more likely to try out new drinks

Despite stay-at-home orders and business closures, Americans branched out in their alcohol tastes. Two in five (41%) tried out new alcohol in the last year, with Gen Z and Millenials more likely than older generations (49% vs. 37%). Among those who experimented, liquor was most popular (52%), followed by beer (46%) and wine (40%).

  • Gen Z and Millenials were more likely to try out beer (55%) and wine (49%), compared with older consumers (41% for beer and 33% for wine). Liquor was similarly popular between the two groups (54% and 51% respectively).

Top 3 Beverages Tried Out Within Last Year 

BeerWineLiquor
47% IPA34% Pinot Noir48% Bourbon
41% Ale33% Rosé44% Vodka
41% Hard seltzer31% Red blend/ Chardonnay / Moscato41% Tequila

IPA, ale, and hard seltzer lead the pack as the most popular beers tried out within the last year, with hard seltzer rising among Gen Z and Millenials (46%) and lager (42%) among older cohorts.

There was no clear leader among those who tried out new types of wine, although Pinot Noir (34%) and Rose (33%) slightly edged out Red blend, Chardonnay, and Moscato as the most popular wines (31%). Rose and Moscato were the top wines for Gen Z and Millenials (39% and 33% respectively), while Pinot Noir (39%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (37%) lead among those older than 40.

Bourbon, vodka, and tequila led among liquor tried out within the last year (48%, 44%, and 41% respectively), with Gen Z and Millenials driving the growth for Tequila (51%) and Rum (42%).

Read more about our polling methodology here