Purchase Habits of Non-Millennial Craft Beer Drinkers

Much has been written about the purchase habits of millennials in recent years, but they still represent only 40 percent of craft beer drinkers. As brewers and distributors, it is critical we continue marketing effectively to both Generation X and baby boomers as well, who collectively account for more than 55 percent of craft beer drinkers today.

Non-Millennials Prioritize Value

According to a 2016 study from IRI Worldwide, “Baby boomers remain more likely than millennials and Gen Xers to drink once a week or more at home.” Unlike the younger generation, boomers are more concerned with finding strong value than maximizing their choice when making a purchase decision. Since non-millennials drink less than millennials, they seek out higher-quality products, not just in beer but in most consumer packaged goods (CPG) categories.

Non-Millennials Drink at Home

Since maximizing value is a factor in non-millennial purchase decisions, consumers are choosing to eat and drink more at home. While foot traffic at most casual dining restaurants continues to decline, many restaurants are experiencing a significant boost in their take-out sales. Gen Xers reported enjoying an average of 3.6 different types of alcohol at home over the previous 3 months, according to IRI.

Non-Millennials Seek Variety

While dining at home is on the rise, the search for great craft beer still drives consumers to seek variety on a regular basis. According to a recent Nielsen study, non-millennials visit an average of 2.5 breweries near their house (within 2 hours) and 1.6 while travelling a year. They represent 45 percent of local brewery visits and 40 percent of travelling visits.

Non-millennials are (slightly) more brand loyal than their younger counterparts, however. 75 percent of millennials said that they at least sometimes “purchase a craft beer brand that [they] have never seen advertising for or heard of,” compared to 68 percent for non-millennials.

Overall Craft Beer Stats to Watch

Although the popularity of craft beer in general continues to rise, we still have a massive audience of consumers who do not regularly enjoy a fresh, independent craft beer. In fact, only 11 percent of millennials enjoyed a craft beer in the past month. For the older generations, that figure is even lower – 8.6 percent of Gen Xers and 5.7 percent of boomers.

Even more concerning is the declining number of adult males between the ages of 21-27 who consider beer their primary alcoholic beverage. In 2006, 65 percent of males listed beer as their go-to drink in the beverage alcohol category. Fast forward to 2016 and that figure has dropped all the way to 43 percent.

Overall, beer is increasingly losing share to wine and spirits—especially among millennials—at a concerning rate. But with innovation and positive messaging from our industry, we can again become the alcoholic beverage of choice by giving both millennials and non-millennials beverages that fit their changing needs.


This article was written by the market development committee as part of the BA Insider—a free email publication sent quarterly by the Brewers Association. Each issue covers topics relevant to craft beer distributors.