Having had their way with Big Burger, Millennials have now been name dropped as the source of Big Beer's declining sales. Not only will total beer volume likely decrease 1% this year, beer's place in the pantheon of booze has been on the decline from 59.6% in 2001 to a projection of 50.9% next year, according to report by Ad Week. This has major beer manufacturers like Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors desperately seeking answers. One explanation: today's youths simply aren't interested in drinking these tired old brews.
"There is a strong correlation to the concept of not drinking my father's beer," said Mike Mazzoni, a former beer industry executive who is a senior partner at Seema International, a business-strategy consultancy. "Millennials aren't drinking the Gen Xers beers," said Mr. Mazzoni, a proponent of the so-called "product life cycle theory," which holds that big brands will eventually mature and begin to falter. "And Gen Xers aren't drinking the same that that they did 20 to 25 years ago. So what we have is an inexorable decline of the major brands."
There's also a rush on craft beer, whose very existence calls the "quality" of beers like Budweiser into question. "Over the past decade or so, we made the mistake of allowing consumers to equate differences in beer style with differences in beer quality and we've seen a growing misperception that lighter beers are somehow lesser beers when it comes to quality," explained MillerCoors CEO Tom Long. The company points to the success of its retro can launch as a way to stymie the bleeding.
So will Millennials really take down Budweiser? Probably not, especially if the companies get creative in appealing to the throwback market that's so popular among the age group. Plus, the artisanal boom can't last forever (right?) and at a certain point don't we all devolve into light beer drinking, backyard barbecue-throwing versions of the previous generation?