The media, both consumer and alcohol industry trade, has been chocked full of stories about the decline and potential demise of beer.
In addition to stories in Beer Business Daily, Buffalo Trace Newsletter and others, notable consumer publications have also had much to say on the subject over the past two weeks. Check out these headlines:
The Atlantic: Why Are American Drinkers Turning Against Beer?
USA Today: 6 sobering reasons why beer makers should worry.
Slate: The Stunning Collapse of Beer in America
Now it’s my turn. What’s the problem? Why is it happening?
What’s the problem?
It all started with the Gallup poll on what Americans drink and prefer. The annual survey revealed two startling facts. First, Americans who drink alcohol are equally likely to say they drink wine and beer most often (35/36% for each type). No big deal, right? But if you go back to 1992, it was 47% for beer and 27% for wine. So, since 1992, beer as a beverage of choice has significantly declined.
The second problem, and the driver of the overall situation, is that young adults’ booze preferences have shifted away from beer toward wine and liquor.
Why is it happening?
I’ve read dozens of explanations in the press and perhaps as many as hundreds of ideas from readers of this blog. So far as I’m concerned, the reasons have to do with 1) too many choices in and out of beer and 2) changes in alcohol drinking demographics and attitudes.
Let’s start with number two and use liquor as an analogy. When I entered the spirits and wine business in the late 1980s, there were enormous earthquake-like shifts in drinking …