Seeking Adventurous Imbibers

Understanding alcohol purchases helps increase brand loyalty, reach brand switchers, Nielsen says

CHICAGO – When stocking your convenience-store cold vault and wine shelves, remember this word: variety. According to a new report from Nielsen, even the most frequent alcohol drinkers tire of their old standbys. The report reveals the more alcohol varieties consumers buy—particularly wine—the more they look to sample new brand offers.

To determine which alcohol-beverage drinkers are the most open to trying new brands, Nielsen surveyed more than 2,000 adult beer, wine or spirits drinkers. Of those, wine drinkers are the most brand-adventurous, with 19% purchasing 10 or more wine brands in the past year. Comparatively, only 15% of beer drinkers and 5% of spirits drinkers have tried the same number of brands.

Moreover, the frequency of purchasing alcohol is closely tied to brand diversification: The more frequently a consumer purchases an alcohol beverage, the more willing he or she is to branch out to different brands, Nielsen says.

For example, 19% of wine drinkers who purchase several times a year have tried more than 10 brands in the past year, whereas 33% of wine drinkers who purchase once a week have tried more than 10 brands in the past year.

And this trend follows across beverage types. Only 5% of spirits drinkers who purchase several times per year have tried more than 10 brands in the past year, but 12% of spirits drinkers who purchase at least once per week have tried more than 10 brands in the past year.

Fifteen percent of beer drinkers who purchase several times a year have tried more than 10 beer brands in the past year. Yet 22% of beer drinkers who purchase at least once per week have bought more than 10 brands in the past year.

While beer drinkers may lag a bit behind wine drinkers as the most adventurous, those who drink craft beers are much more likely to purchase a variety of brands. Almost one-third (32%) of all craft-beer drinkers who buy at least several times a year have bought seven or more brands in the past year.

While wine might get better with age, wine buying diversity gets better with youth. For instance, almost one-quarter (23%) of wine drinkers ages 21 to 34 have purchased 10 or more wine brands in the past year vs. less than 20% of all wine drinkers 21 and older.

Spirits in the Night

Almost 10% of 21- to 34-year-old spirits drinkers have tried more than 10 brands in the past year, compared with only 5% of all spirits drinkers 21 and older. Similarly, younger beer drinkers are more apt to purchase a broader set of brands. The tendency for younger drinkers to try a wider set of brands is probably a result of their more adventurous nature, as well as the likelihood that their “favorite” products may not yet have been established, according to Nielsen.

Offering the right assortment on c-store shelves is a critical element in meeting consumer needs. Within alcohol specifically, there is increasing fragmentation, requiring a broader product set to satisfy these needs, particularly among younger shoppers of legal drinking age.

Understanding how people purchase different alcohol-beverage categories can help increase brand loyalty or reach brand switchers. Knowing whom you’re courting and what drives their behavior will improve your business results, Nielsen says.