Beer Drinking on the Decline? Sort of …

louisville beer - wine glassesBusiness First last week reported on the declining popularity of beer, citing a Gallup study that 36 percent of Americans who drink alcohol prefer beer, down from 39 percent a year ago.

The survey also showed that 35 percent of respondents said they prefer wine, and 23 percent prefer liquor. Beer’s popularity is way down from 1992, when it was preferred by 47 percent of people who drink alcohol. Wine drinking is up sharply from 27 percent and those preferring liquor up slightly from 21 percent.

Why?

A writer from TheAtlantic.com did some questioning and came up with five possible reasons:

  1. Americans are more aware of their health today. (And yet America’s struggle with obesity doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.)
  2. Lower-class white guys – who traditionally have been the most prevalent drinkers of beer – are getting crushed by the economy.
  3. Liquor ads work (more on this in a moment).
  4. Wine is delicious and affordable, and many Americans only recently realized that.
  5. Tastes just change.

I’m a buyer on reasons 3 and 4, and especially so on No. 5. Think about that Cuervo 1800 Silver ad wherein the guy makes you feel like a total ass if you aren’t drinking the stuff. He even kicks a Patron bottle off the table in one spot. As I noted in a previous post, people are essentially sheep – media profoundly affects their decisions, and most people want to look and act just like the “cool” people act. (On the other hand, the old dude in the Dos Equis commercials is way cooler than that Cuervo jackhole.)

As for No. 4, I think there could be a connection between that and No. 1 – wine is seen as a healthier alternative if you’re going to drink alcohol. And to No. 4’s point, people have come to realize that wine drinking isn’t about snobbery or wealth; one can get a decent bottle of wine for 10 or 12 bucks with a little effort. (Although, I think there may be some appeal to the aforementioned sheep who are simply following the trend.)

But I want to believe more than anything that people are simply beginning to realize that corporate light beer is a low-quality beverage, and rather than switch to the more challenging stronger beers, many are simply moving to a white wine or mixed drink.

Is it possible low-quality beer has created a backlash against the beverage in general to those who haven’t climbed onto the craft beer bandwagon? I’d love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below if you have an opinion on this.

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