The American Alcohol Consumer Is Changing: Is the Industry Ready to Serve?

Are Americans drinking less? We identified four critical demographic trends impacting alcohol consumption in the US. Our team interviewed epidemiologists, lobbying groups, as well as CEOs, marketing, M&A, strategy, and consumer insights teams from a dozen top alcohol brands. With the feedback from these experts and industry leaders – and a lot of data – we explore how the American alcohol consumer is changing and what it means for alcohol companies, and we add valuable context to some of the most important sales trends of the 21st century.


These are the main trends:

Trend #1. Older consumers are drinking more and trading up: An increasing share of the 50+ population drinks regularly. Per capita alcohol spending among 65+ consumers has doubled in the past 15 years.

Trend #2. The consumer is diversifying fast, but the industry has been slow to react: People of color represent 40% of the individuals under 25 who regularly use alcohol. Without more diversity within beverage alcohol companies, it is not clear how brands can thoughtfully and ethically market to some of these underserved communities.

Trend #3. Women are drinking more than ever; men are drinking less: 2019 was the first year in US history that women represented the majority of alcohol consumers under 25.

Trend #4. Underage drinking has fallen off a cliff… and nobody really knows why: Alcohol companies spend millions on ‘responsible drinking’ campaigns, which fall into three buckets – preventing underage drinking, binge drinking, and drunk driving. All three have declined significantly in recent decades.