Beer Consumers Shifting from Premium Light Segment Appears to Be a Secular Shift to Other Segments

STAMFORD, CT—July 31, 2013

According to Alcoholic Beverage DemandTracker, a periodic survey of US adults age 21+ who consume any type of alcohol at least once a week or more, beer drinkers who are drinking premium domestic light beer brands less often are more likely to be doing so due to changing preferences and tastes within the beer category, rather than weakness in spending money or other temporary factors.

Among beer drinkers who are consuming premium light beer brands less often, the main reason is “getting tired of the taste”, cited by 27% of them. The second-most popular reason given was “consuming more of other types of beer”, 21%. Economic factors were the third-most popular answer as 20% said they were drinking less premium lights because they were “trying to save money.” Another 17% said they were consuming other types of alcohol most often, suggesting some share losses to wine and spirits. Changing tastes are especially prevalent among certain demographic groups: 40% of 21-27 year olds drinking premium lights less often say they are getting tired of the taste, as well as 39% of Hispanics.

The most recent survey also showed fewer beer drinkers are naming a premium light brand as their favorite brand of beer. As of June 2013, 28% of beer drinkers named a premium light brand as their favorite, down from 32% in June 2012. Beer drinkers are now most likely to name an Import brand as their favorite (30%), while Craft beer brands also continue to gain share among favorite brands (15% in June 2013 vs. 13% in June 2012).

Beer drinkers’ perceptions of the premium light segment also show signs of gradually weakening. In June 2013, 30% of beer drinkers said they perceived the premium light segment as “tasting great”, compared to 33% in June 2012. And beer drinkers today are more likely to describe the premium light segment as “watery,” 37% in 2013 vs. 34% last year.

“Our latest consumer research reveals some serious warning signs for the premium light segment,” said David Decker, President of Consumer Edge Insight. “After a long period when these domestic premium light brands dominated the US beer industry, many beer drinkers, particularly younger ones, are finding that they prefer the stronger and more varied tastes of imports and craft beers instead. This suggests that the recent weakness in share trends for the big premium light flagship brands is likely to continue.”

About Alcoholic Beverage Demand Tracker

Alcoholic Beverage DemandTracker provides an in-depth analysis of the key economic and attitudinal factors impacting alcoholic beverage demand. Data for the most recent Alcoholic Beverage DemandTracker was collected in June via an online survey of over 2,000 US consumers, age 21 and over, designed and weighted to be representative of the US adult alcohol-drinking population. Some of the topics addressed include drivers of change in alcohol category consumption, the impact of economic factors and secular trends on overall alcohol consumption and by category, channel behaviors, ways to increase category consumption, and numerous brand metrics. The research covers the beer, spirits, wine, cider, and flavored-malt beverage categories including the largest brands in each category.

To learn more, call David Decker at +1 (203) 504-7558 or use our contact form to request more information.

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