“Today’s drinkers are not taking their cues from geography or the traditions of their ancestors when determining their drink of choice1.”
A few weeks back I talked about overarching wine industry trends and the difficulty in seeing what the next hot ticket item can be. To add another wrinkle we also need to dive into alcohol consumption in general. After all there are more ways to unwind after a long day than just wine.
Previously in the United State, post-prohibition anyway, we were a beer and cocktail culture. Wine really didn’t start to take hold until the 1960s and 1970s when once great wine regions, like Napa, were revisited by new pioneers. Between 2010 and 2015 our good old U.S. of A was still trending very much towards the beer side of things. Spirits accounted for the least amount of consumption but wine was still a very distant second place.
As of 2015 the United States consumed around 9 liters (2.38 gallons) of alcohol per capita. In 2010 the WHO pegged us at the following percentages for what we were drinking2:
- 50% beer
- 32.7% spirits
- 17.3% wine
Obviously there are larger trends in each country, as this article on Quartz suggests, but as the world has gotten smaller due to the immense transportation infrastructure that we have built, it is easier to be finicky.
One day you might be in the mood for a good Kentucky bourbon. The next a yeasty Belgian beer. Maybe the following week you end up diving into tasting a Pinotage from South Africa. While some of those trends and stereotypes of which beverages belong in which country it is now easier than ever to find variety for our consumption habits. Pair this up with the new-ish hipster culture of constantly seeking out what is new, different and obscure you can find a reason why many marketers and companies are searching for that edge to stay relevant. If you didn’t see the Budweiser ad pushing back against craft beer it was literally a prime time example during the Super Bowl a couple years back.
So how do you market and sell to people who’s tastes and preferences seem like they are constantly changing? Do you try to jump on that new trend before it really hits it big? Do you stick to your own guns and try to break the mold?
Realistically there are quite a few plausible answers to those questions. I tend to lean towards the following answer: You need to find people that believe in the products you believe in. You also need to be willing to educate and relate to those who have a different set of beverage ideals.
Someone who is “married” to Budweiser probably isn’t going to switch to Coors. Just like someone who loves Napa Cabernet Sauvignon to death might not be into wines from Bordeaux. These people may appreciate the competition but in the grand scheme of things they are not going to be converted from one to the other.
So in the world of availability it is all about finding those like-minded souls who like to explore. I encounter folks all the time who “don’t like Merlot” or only drink Napa Cabernet. My key selling point to them is that you never know when you find the exception to your own rule. That next great beverage might be right around the corner, you just haven’t broken your own mold in a while.
This article provides some good insight into why it is getting more competitive and harder for producers to keep up with the rapidly changing trends that the alcohol industry sees. However it also provides an immense amount of optimism, because you never know when you might blow someone’s mind with a wine, beer, or spirit that didn’t see it coming.
1 – https://qz.com/1159484/disney-buys-21st-century-fox-rupert-murdochs-biographer-explains-the-logic-behind-the-epic-merger/
2 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_alcohol_consumption_per_capita