Survey: Beer Regains Popularity Among Drinkers

Wine and liquor have been grabbing beer market share for the past couple years, but beer is making a come back, according to Gallup’s annual Consumption Habits survey conducted July 10-13.

Forty-two percent of U.S. drinkers said beer was their beverage of choice in Gallup’s survey; that figure is up from 40% last year. Wine was cited by 31% of poll participants as their favorite alcohol drink. However, the popularity of wine was down from 34% last year and 39% in 2005. Spirits were picked by 23% of consumers polled, up 1% from the previous year.

Beer’s popularity still doesn’t compare to its heyday during the 1990s when nearly half of Americans cited it as their preferred alcohol beverage. Gallup notes that the shift from wine occurred most significantly among drinkers aged between 30 and 49. In combined 2007 and 2008 data, 47% in that age group cited beer compared with 40% who did so in 2005 and 2006 data. Twenty-seven percent chose wine (in 2007/08) versus 37% who did so previously (in 2005/06).

However, for 18- to 29-year-old drinkers, preference for spirits and wine continues to gain on beer, which is still preferred by 45% of those polled in that age group. Beer is down on average 48% in 2004/05, while liquor is up from 32% to 33%, and wine is up from 16% to 19%.

In terms of market share, distillers and vintners have been gaining on beer sales. The spirits and wine categories grabbed more market share for the sixth straight year going into 2008, per the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. Liquor’s share of alcohol sales increased by 0.3% to 33.1%, wine increased 1.8% to 16.8%, while beer slipped 0.7% to 50.1%.

As for the number of drinks that adults consumed last year, beer declined to 56% from 60%, while wine and spirits grew to 14% and 30%, respectively.

“Anytime you ask people what their drink preference is, consumers are going to be notoriously fickle about what they say,” said David Ozgo, chief economist for the Distilled Spirits Council. “It’s really actions that speak louder than words.”