Quenching the Thirst of Different Demographics

CHICAGO — When it comes to beverages, it is not a one-size-fits-all category. While consumers in general will make their beverage purchase decisions based on some common factors, just how important those factors are differs among different demographic groups.

The fifth-annual Convenience Store News Beverage & Beer Retailing Summit, which took place June 22-23 at the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown Chicago, examined how generational influences are shaping the beverage industry.

With all the buzz about the importance of millennials as the "It" consumer, Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst for The NPD Group, delivered a presentation entitled "Quenching the Thirst of Generation X,Y and Z," during which he discussed three macro trends affecting consumption: 

  • Authenticity. "Purity is the new mantra," Seifer explained. Consumers are avoiding adulterated elements in their search for natural and fresh food and beverage products. 
  • Influence of ethnic culture on overall eating patterns. More than half of total Hispanics and millennial Hispanics say they follow traditions when planning and serving meals. 
  • Generational attitudes. Generation Z and millennials are embracing the shift toward fresher, healthier food choices, while baby boomers are embracing convenience to meet their busy lifestyles, and Gen Xers are teetering in the middle of these consumption shifts. 

"Food and beverage consumption is habitual and it's cultural," Seifer observed. "Consumption patterns move like plate tectonics." 


Lili Gil, co-founder and president of XL Alliance, also highlighted how retailers can use generational and demographical differences to capture the beverage consumer.

In her presentation, "Using Big Data Analytics to Identify Cross-Cultural Insights in the Beverage Category," Gil told CSNews Beverage Summit attendees that by listening and understanding the digital dialogue, retailers, manufacturers and suppliers can better meet their diverse customers' base needs.

An analysis of digital discussions over the past 12 months, as of June 20, showed that "personal staple" is the most important motivator behind a beer purchase at 31 percent of all consumers, 33 percent of Hispanic consumers and 38 percent of African-American consumers, Gil cited. And while it pulled a similar number among millennials at 31 percent, millennials are more motivated by "hosting" at 32 percent.

"Deep cross-cultural insights around the category/brand moment, mindset and preference can better inform targeted growth strategies," Gil explained.

This year's CSNews Beverage & Beer Retailing Summit was sponsored by Red Bull North America as the gold sponsor, and V8, Sparkling ICE, 99 Bottles and Jumex as silver sponsors.