‘Disconnect’ between consumer behaviour & attitudes towards alcohol

Half of all UK consumers who drink alcohol say that they pay a “high” (29 per cent) or “very high” (20 per cent) level of attention to ensuring that they do not drink too much, according to a Datamonitor Consumer Survey.

But later figures indicate that half of all non-abstainers drink at least three alcoholic beverages on a night out (30 per cent) with 19 per cent consuming at least five beverages, more than the recommended government guidelines.

While these trends shouldn’t be taken in isolation, warns Datamonitor, this suggests that there’s a disconnect between attitude and behaviour when it comes to binge-drinking in the UK with consumers ether paying little attention to recommended guidelines on alcohol consumption or having a lack of knowledge about what constitutes excess consumption.

The survey, ‘Alcoholic Beverage Consumer Trends in the UK  – Winning Strategies in a New Decade’ also shows that there’s a clear correlation between age and attention to alcohol intake, with those aged 65 years and older the most likely to say this (64 per cent) and those aged 18 to 24 the least (39 per cent).

It suggests that as the population continues to age, greater emphasis will be made among the population to moderate alcohol consumption because of the associated health risks.

In a saturated market, pairing alcohol with food is one way to help differentiate products, create standout appeal and justify higher prices. Although food and alcohol is a well-established pairing, the tendency to do this appears to be becoming more popular among young adults despite them being most likely to say that they lack awareness about how to effectively match food and alcohol. They also feel intimidated when buying wine, the alcoholic beverage most commonly bought for meal-time occasions.

This means that industry players looking to effectively pair alcohol with food need to go to greater lengths to educate consumers on how to do this, suggests the Datamonitor report, be it through Point-Of-Sale initiatives, packaging and labeling, or wider advertising (such as harnessing social network sites to effectively target younger adults).

It also means that manufacturers need to put more effort into putting consumers at ease when it comes to buying wine, while manufacturers in the beer and spirits categories can look to build on wine’s intimidating profile among younger consumers by positioning products popular among young adults (eg beer) as being ideal for meal-time occasions.

After experiencing a massive slump in sales as the recession impacted consumer spending, it appears that sales of organic alcoholic beverages are beginning to recover, states the report. Supply and demand issues mean that organic beverages only account for a small proportion of total alcoholic beverage sales. Furthermore, the higher price tag associated with organic alcoholic beverages is misaligned with the high levels of price sensitivity in the UK market and as such, will act as an inhibitor to many when it comes to buying these drinks.

This is exacerbated by the fact that many consumers are not able to tell the difference between regular and organic alcoholic beverages.

In the grocery market, organic products are often positioned as being more nutritious than standard offerings, yet this positioning is not possible in the alcoholic beverage market because of the indulgent nature of these products.

This means that if manufacturers are going to encourage more consumers to trade up to organic beverages, they need to convince consumers that the use of organic ingredients offers sensory benefits rather than simply giving the product a better ethical positioning.

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