November 9/New York/Press Release -- The most recent wave of Alcoholic Beverage DemandTracker, a periodic survey of U.S. adults age 21+ who consume any type of alcohol at least once a week or more, shows that beer is losing ground in terms of which alcoholic beverage category is most likely to be considered someone’s “favorite.”  However, the news is not all bad for the beer category, as it appears to be gaining ground among some groups of consumers that have been less likely to favor beer in the past.

Overall in September, 39% of alcohol consumers named beer as their favorite category, followed by wine at 30%, spirits at 28%, flavored malt beverages at 4%, and alcoholic cider at 1%.  Compared to September 2012, beer has lost two percentage points at the expense of the other alcohol categories.

Looking at the trend by gender, beer’s share loss is driven by men, 51% of whom described beer as their favorite category in September 2013, vs. 54% last year. However, beer is making strides among women, 26% of whom named beer as their favorite alcoholic beverage in September 2013 vs. only 24% last year.  This coincides with the recent proliferation of new beer brands and flavor choices, as women are more likely than men to say they were drinking more beer due to “finding new brands” (39% of women vs. 36% men) and “finding new flavors” (38% of women vs. 31% of men).

Looking at the trend by age, beer is losing the most share among 21-27 year olds (as only 33% of them in September 2013 said that beer was their favorite, compared to 39% in September 2012), and 35-54 year olds (as 41% of them in September 2013 said that beer was their favorite, compared to 47% in September 2012). But beer is gaining share among beer drinkers who are age 55 and above, as 38% of them in September 2013 said that beer was their favorite, compared to 31% in September 2012.  Beer is holding share among 28-34 year olds, with 42% of them saying that beer is their favorite category in both September 2013 and September 2012.

Of further concern for the beer industry, the most prevalent reason given by 21-27 year olds who are consuming less beer was that they are “getting tired of the taste of beer” -- 39% of them said that was among the reasons for consuming less.  Some of this can be attributed to a normal seasonal pattern where beer consumption drops off after its summer peak, however this attitude is more prevalent this year than in September 2012 when 32% of those drinking less beer cited this as a reason why. The most common reasons cited by 35-54 year olds who are consuming less beer are “consuming more of other types of alcohol” (24%) and “trying to lose weight” (23%).

“Our latest consumer research reveals some serious warning signs but also a few bright spots for the beer industry,” said David Decker, president of Consumer Edge Insight. “While the category is seeing a decline in affinity among the two groups of consumers that the beer industry has long-considered its primary targets, men and 21-27 year olds, the good news is that the beer category is seeing gains among the two groups that it has long-struggled to reach, women and older drinkers.  However, the lower per capita alcohol consumption among females those who are age 55+ means that the beer industry needs to keep working hard to restore the strong affinity to the beer category among men and young adult drinkers.”