Just as beer marketers failed to stop spirits from taking occasions and consumption from beer over the last decade, so too they failed to improve beer’s image among and consumption by women. At the same time, and not unrelated, per capita beer consumption among adults continues to decline in the US. So does beer’s share of adult per capita absolute alcohol consumption. The table below shows that 55% of men (age 21+) were beer drinkers in 2006, according to Mediamark surveys. That edged up to 58% in 2011 but dipped back to 57% in 2016. The percentage of women who drink beer did not budge during this 10-yr period. Measured as an index, men score 131 in propensity to drink beer vs 72 for women, a 60-point gap that has not changed at all over the last decade. In sharp contrast, spirits suffers virtually no such gap. We don’t have Mediamark’s spirits data for 2006, but surveys from 2011 and 2016 show not only slight increases in the percentages of both men and women who drink spirits over the last 5 yrs, but very slight differences between those numbers. It’s just a few percentage points and only 7-8 pts difference in the index. Right now, about 46% of men drink liquor, 43% of women. (For wine, by the way, women over-index compared to men. But the gap is half what it is for beer, about 30 points.)
Table also shows the decline in per capita beer consumption in US over last 10 years: down 3.6 gallons, 12%. At same time, per capita spirits consumption rose about 1/3 of a gallon, 15%. Direct result: beer lost almost 6 share of absolute alcohol consumption over last decade, while spirits up 5 share. These trends are important, indeed critical, especially since overall per capita alcohol consumption changes very little in US. First, and most obviously, women are half the population, beer is not gaining any ground with them (as a group) and spirits has a clear and consistent advantage. So does wine. Second, 1 gallon of beer per capita is now about 7.5 mil bbls of beer, per yr. Third, as we remind every year when the Distilled Spirits Council does its annual review, 1 point of absolute alcohol share currently translates to about 4 mil bbls, per yr. Without changes in trends among women drinkers, per capita beer consumption and/or share of absolute alcohol consumption, individual brewers’ volume goals become that much more difficult to achieve.