Will there be Beer Cups? Millennial purchasing trends in beverage alcohol

On staff Jonathan Nadeau is our resident wine expert. He grew up with a glass of wine in one had and a corkscrew in the other. Last year he wrote a comprehensive report on what Millennials want and how they buy when it comes to beverage alcohol.

With this post I am going to give a short summary of how I fit into this picture as a 23 year old, recent graduate, living and working in Ontario, Canada.

As someone with no particular expertise in wine or beverage alcohol I am closer to the average than my Millennial friend Jonathan.

I fit into the “Achievers” personality segment. Since 2011 Abacus Data has been developing the Ysegments, a proprietary segmentation model that acknowledges the unique traits of the Millennial generation in Canada. The achievers segment is a female-dominated group of career- and family-focused women, mostly living in urban areas.

Which personality segment are you?

The real story here is that I will fake it until I make it when it comes to purchasing beverage alcohol.

A quick summary:

• I like options and I like indie labelling
• I prioritize local
• I still think like a university student
• I wish I was 30

Like many Millennials I look to my friends and influences for drink ideas, most importantly when it comes to hosting friends. Visibility is what makes me think-twice about which drink I grab from the shelf. Barely taking into account my guests’ preferences, I consider the event/venue, the type of people attending, and the impression I want to give.

I am in my early twenties – when it comes to buying beverages ahead of time the only real question in my mind regarding the venue is whether or not there will be beer cups.

Millennial drink selection process:

1) Where am I going?
2) Who will be there?
3) Will there be beer cups?

There are a few tools that help me to pick out what to buy, given my limited knowledge and general insecurity when it comes to choosing drinks.

1) Local craft beer with friends

When it comes to beer I often drink “craft brews.” Most important to me is that they are local or I know the communities where they come from.

This summer I shared some lighter beers that are marketed for only having 67 calories. This was fun for the summer, but unless the 67’s concept catches on among other brands I am not committed to the idea. It isn’t worth sacrificing the connection I have to local breweries.


This weekend a few friends and I stopped in at the Indie Ale House while visiting Toronto. It was something of a destination restaurant in the Junction. We each tried a few different brews that they had on tap, all specific to the Indie Ale House. There was a vast list of options for us to try. Our server had a blue mohawk and was incredibly knowledgeable. We each told her our typical preferences and she told us which beer we would like most.


Our host for the evening had recommended the place because she had previously purchased 2L growlers from their onsite retail store. I’ve never done this but I love the concept and if I had this option in my neighbourhood I would flock to it.

2) White wine at dinner parties

When it comes to wine I am even more disconnected and confused. I use a few tactics to help me find something to share with dinner guests or to bring to a party; I look for something with a trendy label or something that is VQA/local whenever possible.

This is one example that meets all of this criteria and what I served at my birthday party last year, found at the LCBO.

While sometimes I’ll be persuaded by an enthusiastic in-store sample salesperson I much more frequently seek out brands that I have seen advertised in a magazine or blog that taunts with a lifestyle I admire and strive towards. My fave right now is Matchbook Mag.

matchbook mag

3) Looking ahead – Liquor that 30-year-olds drink

I think someday, maybe when I am 30-something I will more regularly drink bourbon or scotch. I was recently at a coworkers’ house party. He had just been to a large music festival in the American south-west. On his way back he brought some fantastic bourbon that he shared with my friends and I that night. It was less of a tasting and more of a show and tell.

The circumstance where I would buy liquor or spirits is very rare in my life today. My lifestyle and budget require that I put good quality bourbon out of mind in most cases. But more important, is that I don’t know enough about liquor to be confident in my decision-making. I want to learn more so that I can make an educated decision that considers taste, quality and purchase-price.

When it comes to marketing to people like me Jonathan’s report sums up these trends:
• Millennials are highly influenced by their peers
• I favour Ontario wines
• Wine and beer fit into my lifestyle; Spirits only on special occasions

Check out the report to learn more about the shopping, buying and decision-influencing habits that Millennials exert when purchasing beverage alcohol.

Jaime is an Analyst at Abacus Data and a thought leader for its Canadian Millennials research practice.

Contact Jaime Morrison:

T: 613-232-2806

E: jaime@abacusdata.ca

W: http://www.abacusdata.ca

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