Hoppy or not?
America’s changing beer story

There’s trouble brewing in the alcohol industry. Hit by the fitness wave, Americans are consuming less alcohol with each passing year. But if there is one drink that has taken the worst hit, it’s the good old frothy beer. Once America’s default choice for drinks, beer is slowly losing its fizz as people skip to other alternatives.

But despite its declining popularity, beer continues to be on the top, grabbing almost half of the alcohol market share. There are still enough alcohol lovers who are happily reaching out for that icy pint of beer. So how much beer are Americans downing, and more importantly, how are their preferences changing? To understand this, Piplsay (powered by Market Cube) reached out to 42,000 beer drinkers across the country, and this is what we found:

The fact that the number of Americans who prefer beer over other drinks has come down to 40% is enough to reflect the changing trends. Increasingly, wines and spirits have become the go-to drinks for many Americans, including millennials who want to keep the extra carbs and calories at bay. Today, the Beer market share has dropped from 49.8% in 2010 to 45.5% in 2018, while that of Spirits has increased from 33.3% to 37.3% over the same period*. In terms of preferences, a majority of beer lovers are increasingly opting for craft beer over mass-produced beer. So while Americans are drinking less beer, they are focusing more on the quality when they do go for it; preferring fuller-flavored beers from small and independent breweries instead.

While generic beer sales plummeted in 2018, craft beer sales rose by 7%, giving it a 25% share in the overall beer market

This is hardly surprising, considering that close to 8000 microbreweries have opened in America in the last ten years alone, with a majority of them still operational. Having witnessed the changing trends and feeling the pinch sharply, it is little wonder that top beer companies began to buy craft breweries to put themselves into the game. Among them, AB InBev, the country’s largest brewing company, already owns 11 top breweries, including Elysian, Goose Island, and the recently acquired Ohio’s Platform Beer Co. Given this huge shift, America’s preference for ale has also increased, as revealed by the Pipslay survey. Often, microbreweries prefer ale because of its shorter brewing process and larger scope for flavoring and experimentation. But increasingly, lagers are also becoming quite popular. After all, they have traditionally formed the base of the American beer industry, with most top-selling brands being pale lagers. But, contrary to popular belief, it’s not the brewpubs that most people are heading to for their share of crafty pleasures. With a huge variety of bottled regular and craft beer available in the market, over 60% of Americans prefer sipping a beer at home.

Within brands, domestic beers continue to dominate the market with Bud Light leading the race. In fact, AB InBev, which owns Budweiser and other brands like Corona, Stella Artois, and Michelob enjoys a good 41% of the market share today. While the demand for Mexican beer has pushed Corona and Modelo up the charts, Blue Moon’s entry into the top spot clearly marks the shift towards craft beer. Samuel Adams, another craft beer, also makes its way up but misses the top spot by a whisker. That some of the top-selling regular brands continue to be light beers reiterates the ongoing trend towards health and fitness.

Today, beer brands are going all out to woo the consumers, pumping huge money into sponsorships and advertisements. There’s no doubt that beer sales are falling, while that of liquors and wines are bubbling up. Still, there’s something about the fizzy, frothy beer that has Americans wanting for more. After all, there’s still a good 40% of Americans who love guzzling beer when they get the chance.

*Source: Statista

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