What happened with alcohol consumption?
Was there some spike in alcohol consumption? We know per-capita consumption of alcohol in the United States going back 170 years to 1850. In 1850, Americans consumed 2.2 gallons of alcohol per capita. Now the number is 2.1 gallons. The highest point was in 1980 – 2.75 gallons; the lowest, 1934 at the end of prohibition – .97 gallons. So based on 170 years of data, the overall consumption of alcohol hasn’t changed very much.
What has changed to a greater degree is choices. Since 2010, spirits have picked up speed, and wine has also gained share at a slower pace. Beer has lost about 10 points of the total share of drinks consumed, although still the largest share.
What about packages?
We also saw a huge increase in big package size sales as well. This meant that people were going to the stores less often and taking home bigger pack sizes. It was surprising to us that this happened for the remainder of the whole year, and we still have not seen a slow down in larger package size sales.
So what lost? Smaller package sizes like 6pk bottles, draught, and single-serve cans. For right now, we see draught coming back. As restaurants are allowed to open again, that volume will start to grow. The jury is still out on package size though. Big packages may be here to stay; only time will tell!
What about brands?
Largely, well-known global brands did very well. These brands were trusted before and the consumers knew what they were buying. From our perspective, it was like the consumer knew they could not be let down.
The same was true for trusted national craft brands. These brands have been on the decline for years. Now they have fresh life and are flourishing again under the same thought that they are trusted and the consumer wouldn’t be let down.
So that brings us to the loser: the local and regional crafts. The beer consumer has largely become an adventurous consumer. Someone who loves to seek out and find the new beer to try and taste. That consumer behavior has changed over the last year as a lot of people migrated towards “trust” first vs “trial” first. We do believe that trial will return, consumers will look for innovation, and, from what we can tell, brewers are ready to give it to them.