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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Well, It’s Still Less Filling: Light Beer Falling Out of Favor?

louisville beer - bud light vented can

Don’t look now, but people are starting to pay attention to what’s actually coming out of those fancy new vented cans.

To the surprise of no one involved, it appears American beer drinkers continue to gravitate toward beer that actually has flavor.

According to this USA Today story, a new report shows that people are slowly but surely getting tired of the taste of corporate light beer. In fact, the study showed that in June 2012, 32 percent of those surveyed listed corporate light as their beer of choice. This past June, that number was 28 percent.

In fact, a number of those surveyed specifically said they were getting tired of the taste. In June of 2012, 33 percent said they thought premium light beers tasted “great.” In June of 2013, that number was 30 percent.

As quoted in the USA Today story, David Decker, President of Consumer Edge Insight, said, “After a long period when these domestic premium light brands dominated the U.S. 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.”

I would opine that it’s also trendy to drink something other than Bud Light these days, and as we know, human beings are predisposed to following trends. People purposely wore parachute pants, for crying out loud. And bought Milli Vanilli albums. And with hipsterdom on the rise, it’s either going to be craft beer or PBR for a lot of people.

Even a global machine like the light beer industry is going to fall out of favor eventually; people have slowly but surely come to realize there are more and far better options than the homogenized, mass market stuff.

But hey, at least it’s still less filling, right?

I Can’t Watch the New Miller Lite Ad

louisville beer - miller lite bottle

Just look at those curves. You see, it right?

Corporate beer commercials have always (mostly) been pretty annoying, from Spuds MacKenzie right on up to the Coors Light train (whatever that thing is called) spots.

And as you know, the latest round of Miller 64 commercials is just a rip-off of the Popeye theme song. That’s a whole other level of annoying.

But for some reason, the new Miller Lite ad is really getting on my nerves. It makes me twitch. And I’ve gotten to the point now where I instantly change the channel when it comes on, just like I have done when faced with a teaser for that Honey Boo Boo nonsense.

I’m sure you’ve seen the ad, but if not, here’s the scene: Four young guys, out on the town at a really swanky bowling alley (?), spot a roller-skating (?) waitress across the room carrying a single Miller Lite bottle on a round tray, and thus begins a dialogue, rich with subtext and nuance, which goes something like this:

“Do you see what I see?”

“I already saw it?”

“Do I see what you see?”

“Saw, seen, seeing.”

“I saw what I think I see. Do you see?”

“I am pretending I saw it, but I don’t see it.”

“You people are f*cking stupid.” (Clarification: That was me in my living room, not someone in the commercial.)

At that point, or thereabouts, the super-hot waitress (at least they got that part right) appears in front of them with a tray that now mysteriously has FOUR (?) curvy new bottles of Miller Lite, and she says … well, I’m not sure what she says, as I’ve never been able to watch that part. I always change the channel first.

Cunningly, Miller Lite’s marketing geniuses have chosen to avoid getting into the “vented can” war with Bud Light and Coors Light. Instead, Miller Lite is focusing on the delicious, triple-hopped product it sells to consumers.

I’m kidding; actually, it is focused on the shape of the bottle, which is just another way to avoid talking about what’s inside it. Makes me miss the days of “Tastes Great/Less Filling” – at least then they were just calling it like they saw it, and letting the consumer decide whether he or she could stomach the flavor. I guess that approach – along with that vortex neck thing – is out of vogue. Why? Here’s why, via a press release straight from the horse’s … er, mouth:

Inspired by form and design, the modern look of the new bottle offers broad shoulders and a contoured grip, intended for easy handling from the bar to the pool table. The bottle defies the convention of the standard cylinder-shaped bottle, helping Miller Lite stand out among the brown bottle sameness of other light beers.

“Miller Lite is giving beer lovers a long-overdue reinvented look and drinking experience with the breakthrough new bottle design,” said Ryan Reis, senior director of Miller Lite, via the same press release. “In our testing, consumers overwhelmingly preferred the new bottle to the standard beer bottle. We’re proud of the new design and we’re excited to see how everyone reacts to our new look. This time when you grab a Miller Lite, you’ll know it.”

I mean, yeah, the fizzy yellow stuff inside still tastes like socks, but by god, that bottle sure does feel good in your hand. Excuse me. I need to go scream into a pillow.