Baby Boomers, Gen. X, Gen. Y, Millennials, Gen. Z, … what else is next? According to the U.S. Census, Millennials (defined as being born between 1982 and 2000) have overtaken the Baby Boomer population and have now reached over 83.1 million, and represent over 25% of the American population. 

So, what does this have to do with the beverage market, you might ask? According to Wine Spectator, in 2015, Millennials consumed 42% of all the wine consumed in the U.S. (159.6 million cases of wine), more than any of the other generations. Therefore, those who are in the wine industry should be paying attention to the Millennial population, as they are maturing in their beverage consumption preferences, and are now more stabilized in their lives. 

Being an older Millennial myself, I have found through personal experience and those of my friends and colleagues that more money is being spent on experiences, much of which include food and beverage. The Wine Market Council has observed through their research that as Millennials have gotten older, they are more willing and financially able to afford better wine. With the trend continuing to be the unique experiences, this group of consumers is less attracted to the large suppliers, instead preferring the craftsman, small-batch alcohols. Interestingly enough, the alcohol preference has trended away from beer consumption, and more towards wine and spirits. 

In the past decade, unique beverage experiences have been popping up everywhere, such as the mixology movement, the resurgence of speakeasies, and even the alcohol crossovers and infusions. Just in Las Vegas alone, the Las Vegas Strip and Downtown Fremont bar scene has exploded with a unique array of beverage menus using the latest trends in mixology. For some unique experiences in Downtown Las Vegas (if you can find it and/or get in), check out the Downtown Cocktail Room and The Laundry Room speakeasy at the Commonwealth.

Unfortunately, as the Millennial population trends towards experimentation, hand-crafted drinks, artisanal producers and other types of one-of-a-kind sensory experiences, the classic domestic labels are beginning to suffer. Brands like Budweiser, Coors and Miller beers have anticipated declines in sales this year. Recently, in July of this year, Goldman Sachs downgraded its stock ratings of Constellation Brands and Boston Beer Co. due to the decreasing demand for beer and a trend towards wine instead. Despite the decrease in overall consumption, craft beer sales have still been rising, though at a much slower rate than in previous years. 

With the majority of the Millennial population now being over 21 years old, I am eager to see what the up and coming consumption trends in the beverage industry will be and how much this generation will continue to influence the market. Regardless of the trend, I personally think that technology will play a big role in its growth and will likely align with the social media trends. Currently, social media tools like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter, etc. are used as major communications of their food and beverage explorations. What do you think the next “big thing” in the beverage world will be?

Until next month, Cheers~!