Top 3 Ways the Beverage Industry is Changing


If you need proof of the impact that millennials are having on the food and beverage industry, here’s a story that might provide it for you.

A lifestyle reporter for the Washington Post hosted a holiday party for her spouse’s employees at his law firm (pre-Covid, of course.) As most of her husband’s staff attending the event were comprised of millennials (those born between the years of 1981-1996), she wanted to ensure she had a liquor and beverage selection that would be commensurate with their tastes and preferences. She texted a new associate attorney she’d come to know, a 30-year-old graduate of Georgetown’s prestigious law school, for ideas of beverage selections she should put on the list for her shopping expedition.

First, he told her, there’s no need to go physically shopping for the supplies. “You should download an app like Drizly, and they’ll find everything and deliver it for you,” he informed her. Second, he informed her, you’ll want to make sure anything you buy has the “ethically bottled and sourced” stamps of approval, because nearly everyone he knew at the firm only consumes beverages they know have been humanely distilled and prepared. Third, she should try to also factor in beverages that had “more natural ingredients” and that was ideally labeled “organic” if possible, “especially for mixers,” he said. And finally, “oh and you know, make sure it looks good, too.”

“Looks good?” she thought. What does that even mean? “We take lots of pictures of what we’re drinking to post on our IG feed. So, you know, more upscale looking bottles and labels, that sort of thing,” he offered.

Whereas past baby boomers tended to drink the most dominant brands of liquor and beverages and Generation X drank whatever was cheapest and easiest to purchase, the mysteries of the millennial generation and how they choose to allocate their purchasing power continue to both abound and astound the food and beverage industry, not to mention all the rest of the population. But making up 25% of the current population means that paying attention to and incorporating their preferences is a MUST for beverage companies to stay progressive and profitable.

Here’s a look at the TOP 3 ways the industry is changing to meet those millennial demands.

Health Conscious

No generation before has valued a life-long commitment to health and well-being to the extent that millennials do. A recent Forrester study indicates that 9 out of 10 millennials say that buying food and beverage products that are healthy is a top priority to them, and they put their money where their mouth is: millennials currently account for over half of the organic foods purchased today. 

The millennial generation is uniquely conscious and aware of everything they put in their body, and everywhere they choose to spend their money. They are significantly aware of both the ingredients that go into their consumables as well as where it came from, how it was produced, and how it was packaged. They will often reject beverages made with inferior quality or brands that don’t have a commitment to health and humanity.  

What does this mean for the beverage industry? Not just a change in what products they offer but also how they advertise their products and how they prepare them. Health centered beverages like Kombucha and other fermented drinks that provide an added health benefit were up 21% in sales in 2020, and even alcohol brands are making the pivot. Brands like White Claw have seen an enormous gain in popularity due to their tagline “Made Pure” and their legit boast that they are made with nearly all-natural ingredients and gluten-free alcohol. To stay competitive, beverage brands need to act on the millennials commitment to health by providing products that speak to this preference, and directly address factors like natural ingredients, less chemicals, and less preservatives.

Drink Ethically

The good news about millennials? They are the most brand loyal generation in recent history. According to Forrester, 80% of millennials will stay faithful to a brand, provided that brand lives up to a commitment for health and ethics. Millennials have increased access to product information and how it is prepared and do their research. They want to purchase from brands that share their commitment to the environment, sustainability, and humane treatment of employees, animals, and the land. 73% of millennials are willing to pay more for a product they know comes from a brand committed to sustainability and are much more likely to buy from a beverage brand that is transparent about their ingredients, how they treat their employees, and how they source and create their packaging.

For the beverage industry, this can mean a major pivot in brand culture. Finding ways to make products that include ingredients originating from more ethically responsible producers is key. Changing their commitment to employees by providing better wages and better employment conditions will also be a factor. And making a commitment to sustainable packaging and bottling techniques will all be part of the industry’s future.

Social Convenience

As we all know, the millennials generation lives a large part of their life on their phones, and they fully expect the brands they buy from to do the same. 72% of millennials indicate they are more likely to purchase from a brand that has a strong, engaging social media presence. Millennials today don’t just buy a product but are buying into a lifestyle. They want to know the beverages they buy are from a brand that reflects their beliefs, values, and image.

For the beverage industry, this means a few things. Ensuring that your brand has a strong social media presence on key social media platforms is crucial. Using your social media profile to fully define your product’s image and brand is important, but so is making sure you’re offering opportunities for interaction with social polls, trending hashtags, and Instagram photo filters all factor into the mix. And providing convenient purchasing is key, too. Millennials were raised in an instant gratification world, and they expect the beverages they buy to be no exception. Ensuring your beverages are easily consumable and readily available through online purchase is a must as the industry moves forward.  Book a demo today!