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Millennial alcohol branding featuring friends toasting with cocktails.

From Wine to Hard Coffee: 10 Millennial Trends to Inform Your Alcohol Branding

Millennials now make up the largest adult population, with a buying power of $2.5 trillion. That buying power has a big impact on many industries, alcohol included. In fact, millennial behavior is shaping and changing alcohol branding trends year after year. 

But what do millennials look for in their alcohol purchases? And how can brands capitalize on it? 

To market to millennials, you have to take a look at their spending habits, values, and preferences. Read on to discover 10 millennial alcohol branding and industry trends every beverage brand should know! 

1. The Vast Majority of Millennials Buy Alcohol

Plenty of that millennial buying power finds its way into the beverage industry. A whopping 90% of millennials drink alcohol at least occasionally, and the average millennial spends $300 per month on alcohol. 

Unlike with other generations, the global pandemic hasn’t slowed down this spend significantly. (Gen Z and baby boomers significantly dropped their alcohol purchases after COVID hit—but millennial spending stayed about the same). 

Millennials are more conscious than ever about their alcohol consumption. But so far, that hasn’t impacted sales. 

2. Millennials Prefer to Drink at Home

Even though it hasn’t impacted overall spending, the pandemic has shifted millennial alcohol behavior. Of all generations, millennials are most likely to purchase alcohol to drink at home—as opposed to Gen X and baby boomers who prefer to drink in bars or restaurants. 

This is good news for upcoming alcohol brands—partnering with retailers over the hospitality industry, or even sinking more time and money into building your online presence can pay off with millennials. 

Alcohol branding for millennials as they drink and socialize in their apartment.

3. Online Ordering is Rising Drastically

The pandemic also changed the way millennials buy alcohol. Online ordering has become a trend that is impossible to ignore. 

Millennials prefer to order their alcohol and have it delivered right to their door—they make up 53% of Drizly’s online alcohol orders.

Brands that want to appeal to millennials should take note—offering direct-to-consumer shipping and delivery is a great way to build interest with this group. 

4. Wine and Beer Reign Supreme

Alcohol preferences differ greatly between millennials and their younger counterparts, Gen Z. While Gen Z is trending toward spirits and cocktails, wine and beer continue to be the primary beverages of choice for millennials. 

There is a stark gender divide when it comes to alcohol purchases. Red and white wine are the first and second choice of millennial women, while millennial men are most likely to choose beer. 

5. Alcohol Brand Loyalty is Fading

Gone are the days of having one and only one go-to brand of beer. Millennials are less likely than previous generations to be brand loyal. 

Instead, they prefer trying new flavors, forms, and brands of alcohol. Only 24% of millennials know what brand they plan to buy before they shop, and they are far more willing to experiment with unknown brands. 

This means that there is plenty of opportunity for new brands to attract millennial consumers. It also means that packaging design is extremely important with this generation. Millennials are more likely to choose wine and beer based on the label and packaging than previous generations. Brands need to design eye-catching, memorable alcohol packaging.

6. Millennials View Drinking as Fun and Relaxing

Alcohol branding for millennial woman as she's sipping wine in a robe.

Millennials choose to buy alcohol for a number of different reasons, but fun and relaxation are among the top. They view drinking alcohol as a fun experience or a way to unwind and escape from their lives. 

When marketing to millennials, brands need to keep this in mind. They should lean into images such as having a good time drinking beer with friends or curling up on the couch with a glass of wine. 

7. They Want Quality, and They’re Willing to Pay to Get It

Millennials aren’t looking for the cheapest option on the shelf. More than any other generation, they are highly concerned with the quality of their alcohol. 64% of millennials say they are willing to pay more if it ensures a premium product. 

They also want to know what ingredients are going into their bodies—millennials are more likely to choose low-sugar or low-calorie options. 

8. Millennials Want to Combine Their Vices

Millennials aren’t just alcohol lovers—they’re also coffeeholics. They make up 44% of overall coffee consumption, and more millennials pick up the habit each year. 

These two interests have combined into one—hard coffee. Sales of hard coffee increased by a staggering 11,000 percent in 2020 and have continued to rise steadily since. 

9. Alcohol Branding Matters: Millennials Care About the Mission

Like Gen Z, millennials also care deeply about the values, mission, and ethics of the brands they support. Millennials prefer to support small businesses and local breweries over big companies. 

If brands want to compete for millennial attention, they need to highlight their stories, mission, and values. 

10. They Pair Alcohol With Social Media

Alcohol branding for millennial woman as she scrolls through social media with a cocktail beside her.

Millennials are social media enthusiasts, so it’s no wonder they incorporate alcohol into social media. 

Hashtags like #roseallday and #wineoclock are prime examples of social media alcohol culture. Millennials don’t just want to enjoy their drinks—they want to create experiences they share with others. 

How to Lean Into These Millennial Trends in Your Alcohol Branding

Millennials are a unique generation, and beverage brands have a lot to learn about their insights if they want to market successfully to them. 

Brands that wish to appeal to millennials should highlight the experience—the fun, the relaxation, the ability to share and interact with friends. They should also lean into the trend of online ordering and drinking at home. 

Finally, they must develop strong, cohesive branding—with brand stories and mission statements that build trust and relationships, along with eye-catching and intriguing packaging design and labels. 

Looking to launch a beverage brand? Check out our post on how to start your own wine label next!