Generations Art

Your generation defines your alcohol drinking habits. Not just what you like, but what you buy, how you drink, and even where you drink. A new study from the consumer data provider IRI parsed out exactly how millennials, Gen Xers, and baby boomers drink alcohol, and you might be surprised at the results.

To be clear, generational lines are largely assertions made up by companies that want to section off a diverse group of people into one category in order to make generalizations and sales. That said, many people actually are a product of their time. Some of those generalizations that companies make hold true — whether you like it or not, you over-exaggerating millennial. Here are some of the major findings:

Baby Boomers

  • 33 percent of the population of the United States.
  • Purchase 45 percent of all alcohol by dollar value.
  • Purchase 46 percent of wine, and 41 percent of sparkling wine.
  • Are more likely to buy something because it’s cheap or is a value rather than because of the taste.
  • Are less likely to purchase alcohol at a restaurant or bar.
  • Of the growing wine market, 42 percent comes from baby boomers.
  • Most likely to drink at least once a week at home.

Generation X

  • Make up 21 percent of the total population of the United States.
  • Purchase 21 percent of all alcohol by dollar value.
  • Drink an average of 3.6 different types of drinks at home over the span of a month.
  • Drink an average of 2.8 different types of drinks at bars and restaurants over the span of a month.
  • Around 33 percent choose an alcohol beverage based on the label or bottle design.
  • Are more likely to try different trends and appreciate craft cocktails at the bar.


  • Around 33 percent choose an alcohol beverage based on the label or bottle design, just like Gen Xers.
  • Tend to look for alcohol percentage and flavor innovation to “get the most bang for their buck.”
  • Consider fun and engaging labels as an important factor in choosing a bottle.
  • Choose craft beer 37 percent of the time they drink.
  • Choose vodka 33 percent of the time they drink.
  • 60 percent of millennials say Champagne is good for drinking all year round.
  • Of the millennials who drank Champagne in the past year, 41 percent drank Champagne in the last month, and 23 percent drank it in the last year.

Clearly these wide generalizations leave out a large portion of the community. IRI acknowledges this when it comes to millennials by writing the following:

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“However, millennials are not a one-size-fits-all generation. IRI has identified six distinct segments within the millennial population, each of which has its own identity and ideals: free spirits, struggling wanderers, concerned aspirationalists, conscious naturalists, new traditionalists and confident connectors. To effectively engage the right group, beer, wine and spirit producers, retailers and on-premise establishments must be aware of their differences in philosophies and values and target them in ways that will be most meaningful.”

Now that you know how businesses think you drink, whether you’re a struggling wanderer of a millennial or an aging baby boomer, do you agree? Let us know!