Attitudes to alcohol consumption have been dramatically changing among younger consumers over the last few years. More and more, we’re seeing a reduction in binge-drinking and a move towards moderation. Research has shown that alcohol consumption among 16 to 24 year-olds is down, with 29% now classing themselves as non-drinkers.
While these evolving attitudes are evident among many age groups there is one group that is bucking the trend – the Baby Boomers. In this climate it is clear that both on-trade and off-trade businesses should pay increased attention to this Boomer segment instead of focusing in on a younger group who have less disposable income and are turning away from alcohol en masse.
Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964 (now 54 to 72 years-old), are ageing as well as the fine wine they enjoy (among many other alcoholic drinks). Having grown up in an era of transformation they’re accustomed to living indulgent lifestyles and reaching the later years of their lives is no reason for that to change.
Analysing Boomers’ consumption
What are the reasons behind this lifelong consumption? Our MCCP Trendstream team, using research from our trends partners Foresight Factory and WARC, have carried out a deep dive with this age group to gain a better understanding of their motivations and behaviours.
As Boomers grow older their family dynamics begin to change. With children maturing and moving out they’re no longer the primary carers and are often referred to as ‘empty nesters’. This title gives a sense of Boomers struggling to cope with their new reality when perhaps the opposite is actually true. In actuality, they’re engaging online and are actively seeking new experiences that they’d have missed out on when their priorities were elsewhere.
Boomers’ ‘change of attitude to life’
Since turning 50, 92% of Boomers have had a ‘change of attitude to life’ and over half feel more adventurous in their approach to living. This is evident when we look at their contribution to the night-time economy, comprising the restaurants, bars and clubs.
In 2017, they accounted for 51% of all night-time activity in the UK. They seek rich experiences with 22% of Irish Boomers attending festivals in 2017, while adventurous holidays are climbing in popularity.
While the oldest Boomers today are around 72 years-of-age, they certainly do not consider themselves to be old. Having seen their parents age and slow down, this group is using their desire for culture and entertainment as a catalyst to remain young at heart.
Alcohol & Boomers
Opportunities for this age group to consume alcohol are increasing as they look to spend their disposable income.
The reach of the cinema has grown by 30% with this group since 2007 in the UK and the popularity of ‘Come Dine With Me’ events and Supper Clubs is influencing their at-home entertaining. They’re also attending brunches or barbecues with friends which creates the need for ‘on the go’ alcohol consumption. Boomers in general are drawn to premium quality and innovations around off-trade packaging can entice them to purchase.
‘Premium’ is certainly a draw for this group. As they reach the end of their working lives they’re finding themselves with more spare time and greater resources to enjoy it. The wealth of this group is something to stop and think about – 80% of Britain’s £6.7 trillion net personal wealth belongs to the over-50s group.
With Boomers having more disposable income than ever before they’re willing to spend on high quality items. The rise in popularity of premium alcohol is not just reserved for their younger counterparts, with 77% of boomers deciding to ‘treat themselves’ to a premium food or drink product. In short, premium alcohol brands are eye-catching to this group and is a trait that can be leveraged.
For Boomers, brands have always acted as signifiers and status symbols among their peer groups and the alcohol they consume is no different.
More than half of Baby Boomers (52%) say they’ve a specific alcohol brand in mind when making a shopping trip which shows us they’re making conscious decisions around what alcohol to buy.
While recognisable names are important to this group, a staggering 90% of them feel they are ignored by the brands they relate to most. However, this is a gap that can be reduced as alcohol advertising begins to target different age groups.
While premium alcohol brands are important, this group has a tendency to overindulge which is leading to health problems. More Boomers in the UK are being hospitalised for alcohol-related issues than any other generation. Between 2015 and 2016, over half-a-million adults aged 55-74 were admitted to hospitals in England for alcohol-related conditions or injuries. This trend is predicted to get worse by 2020 as the number of people receiving treatment for some type of substance misuse problem is expected to double in Europe.
After growing up with a hedonistic lifestyle, Boomers are now struggling to curb their habit. However, there are opportunities around low-alcohol or alcohol-free products to ensure they can continue to enjoy their experiences.
Boomers are the most culturally hungry generation we have ever seen and even as retirees they’re tackling stereotypes and changing what it means to grow old.
While their overindulgence of alcohol is causing a tension, their desire for new experiences and premium brands provide interesting opportunities for alcohol brands to target.