Marketing Off-trade

Social media to increasingly influence alcohol choice?

Will post-pandemic alcohol consumers look to social media and other online sources for their alcohol choices and recommendations going forward? Not necessarily. Recent findings from IWSR drinks market analysis show the trends to be more "nuanced".
"While some social media platforms are inexorably growing in popularity among Legal Drinking Age beverage alcohol consumers, fragile levels of trust mean that the most effective marketing strategy for brand owners remains a multi-channel approach, even for LDA Gen Z and millennial drinkers." - IWSR.

“While some social media platforms are inexorably growing in popularity among Legal Drinking Age beverage alcohol consumers, fragile levels of trust mean that the most effective marketing strategy for brand owners remains a multi-channel approach, even for LDA Gen Z and millennial drinkers.” – IWSR.

As global use of social media spiked during Covid-19 Lockdowns TikTok has emerged as a platform that has expanded and diversified its user base.

Indeed, the platform has taken off in markets such as Brazil, Japan and Spain – as well as continuing to grow in its heartland, China – and it has started to attract more mainstream Legal Drinking Age alcohol consumers.

While regular usage of TikTok among LDA alcohol drinkers increased across 10 of the key markets tracked by IWSR (Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain, the UK and the US) only the US failed to register any significant rise in usage.

This is believed to be as a result of the negative publicity surrounding the Chinese-owned platform with the Trump Administration threatening to ban it on grounds of national security.

But across five of the markets surveyed (Brazil, Japan, Spain, the UK and France) IWSR estimates that since August 2020 the platform has recruited around 37 million new users from the LDA population, with particularly pronounced increases in Brazil, Spain and Japan.

In Brazil, for example, the TikTok user-base has almost doubled to over half of the LDA population.

In all three countries, users are disproportionately likely to be younger LDA consumers – Gen Z (aged 20-24) and millennials (aged 25-29) – and although they’ve no significant income disparities versus the general drinking population, they’re more likely to be high spenders on alcohol.

However, as the usage of TikTok becomes more mainstream within a society, the demographic distinctions of users are likely to become less pronounced.

In China, where the proportion of alcohol consumers who regularly use Douyin (TikTok) reached 78% in June 2021 (up from 70% in August 2020), the increase is now not being driven by any one demographic.

In Brazil usage incidence among LDA Gen Z and millennials almost doubled from 35% to 62%; among Gen X it increased by 27% to 48%.  In contrast, Spain’s growth is mainly among LDA Gen Z and millennial alcohol drinkers.

 

Traditional recommendations still trusted

While increasing numbers of LDA beverage alcohol consumers are being attracted to TikTok and other social media platforms, many continue to rely on friends and family – rather than influencers and live streamers – as trusted sources of information and recommendations.

According to research conducted by a division of the IWSR Group, Wine Intelligence, 43% of regular wine-drinkers in China named friends, family and colleagues as their most trusted source of wine information, narrowly ahead of brand websites, bloggers and comments on online shopping sites.

While the reach of live streamers in China can be substantial – Li Jiaqi, a lifestyle key opinion leader with more than 40 million followers on TikTok/Douyin, for example, is reported to have sold 20,000 six-bottle cases of wine within 30 seconds during a livestream in 2019 – Wine Intelligence data shows that 34% of Chinese regular wine drinkers trust social media, a figure which rose to 39% among millennials – but fell to 27% for Gen Z.

 

Friends, family & colleagues most trusted source of wine information

Friends and family are an even more vital source of trusted wine information for regular wine drinkers in the US, with 70% of those surveyed by Wine Intelligence turning to them for wine guidance and recommendations.

Meanwhile 40% said they trusted social media, rising to 52% for younger LDA Gen Z drinkers. However, millennials in the US are not significantly more influenced by social media, with 44% of this cohort trusting these sources for wine information and recommendations.

These findings reflect the experiences of David Choi, owner of Angel Falls Wines and Magna Carta Cellars in California’s Napa Valley and a wine influencer with more than 220,000 followers on TikTok. He began posting in an effort to bridge what he calls the “big divide” between the wine industry and consumers who, he says, can often be intimidated by the subject.

“We’ve found [our audience] to be everyday wine-drinkers and we see our audience on TikTok specifically to be the next generation of wine-drinkers, at the beginning stages of their wine journey,” he says.

While younger LDA wine consumers in the US are increasingly paying attention to influencers and other online sources of information, the picture changes in the UK where Wine Intelligence found that only 29% of regular wine drinkers trust social media.

Furthermore LDA millennial and Gen Z consumers are not significantly more influenced by social media compared to other UK wine-drinkers. Levels of trust in information given by a wine blogger or expert are higher at 40%, but friends, family and colleagues (75%) remain by far the most trusted sources of information.

The inference, states IWSR, is that while some social media platforms are inexorably growing in popularity among LDA beverage alcohol consumers, fragile levels of trust mean that the most effective marketing strategy for brand owners remains a multi-channel approach, even for LDA Gen Z and millennial drinkers.

 

 

“While some social media platforms are inexorably growing in popularity among Legal Drinking Age beverage alcohol consumers, fragile levels of trust mean that the most effective marketing strategy for brand owners remains a multi-channel approach, even for LDA Gen Z and millennial drinkers.” – IWSR.

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