While drinking rates are declining globally, particularly among young people, in the UK, baby boomers (aged 55-64) remain the most likely to drink heavily and are the least likely to abstain from drinking alcohol.
The universal decline may therefore be more of a polarisation around drinking, with the decline of overall consumption levels potentially masking on-going heavy drinking among some young people and particularly older ones.
In the UK, the 4% of the population who drink the most heavily are responsible for c. 30% of all alcohol purchases, and alcohol-related deaths as well as hospital admissions are growing significantly in recent years.
Analysis and Comments
It is estimated that over 20% of the population does not drink at all, and its c. 30% for people under 24 (the data is not very precise). It is also estimated that c. 4% of the population drink around 30% of the alcohol consumed and that these consumers make up c.25% of industry profits. In addition, and perhaps more worryingly, deaths related to alcohol misuse are the highest in a decade, with related hospital admissions up 67%.
The implications are fairly stark for Beverages companies – in Western markets we should expect a continuing shift away from consumption of mass market beer, toward premium beer, wine & spirits. This is not necessarily bad news for drinks companies, they have been repositioning themselves for this shift for some time. Plus emerging markets consumption is still rising and the trend toward premium (i.e. more profitable) drinks continues.