Looking through the flood of beer-related emails in my inbox, I was amused to see a story announcing the possible end of craft beer. Hey, I realize click bait is a fact of life these days, and I make a conscious effort to steer away from those links. But this was too good to ignore.
story is that the millennial generation is moderating its consumption of beer and other alcoholic drinks. This news comes via a poll of 5,000 drinkers, age 21-35, in the UK, US, Mexico, Brazil and the Netherlands. 75 percent of these folks say they moderate their alcohol consumption most of the time because it improves their quality of life.
Heineken has actually launched a "Moderate Drinkers Wanted" campaign designed to tap the supposedly shifting millennial values. You may have seen the ads, which have been airing during sporting events and similar programming. Heineken apparently thinks the good citizen motif is worth something.
The whole thing comes as a huge surprise to me. Most of my experience mingling with these folks at festivals, bars and such is that they exert little self control when it comes to drinking. Maybe the poll sample wasn't large enough to be representative. Or maybe Oregon millennials weren't polled.
Of course, if millennials really are throttling back on alcohol consumption, it's bad news for craft beer. Because these folks are probably the biggest driver of the crazy, off-the-hook growth we've seen over the course of the last few years. The industry desperately needs them!
The reason these folks have pushed growth is they are aggressively promiscuous drinkers, constantly searching for new flavors, innovative styles and bizarre interpretations of almost anything drinkable. You might say they'll try anything once. Or twice.
It's really hard to imagine a scenario in which millennials seriously cut back on their drinking. These folks may be fickle and probably are more prone to shifts in attitude and habit than prior generations. But there are a lot of things driving their drinking.
Such as the fact that many American millennials have been saddled with tremendous education debt. Many don't and won't own a house or car. Due to unfunded liabilities in public and private retirement funds, millennials will be asked to finance the retirement of the baby boom generation while working shitty jobs in a downsized economy. And don't forget the trampled environment and corrupt political system they're inheriting.
These kids have got a tough road ahead and it's going to drive them to drink. The only real danger to craft beer is that millennials will shift to hard liquor. They're going to need it.