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Rainy summer fails to quench the UK’s thirst for alcohol

London, 16 October 2012

  • UK consumers drank more despite a wet summer and knowledge of health concerns
  • Increasing consumption driven by youngsters rather than older consumers

New research by consumer experts Canadean Consumer reveals that UK residents claim to have drank more beer, cider and wine this summer than last summer, ignoring the poor weather, rising prices, and concerns about its impact on health. The research, which covered 2,000 respondents, also revealed that differences in attitude varied less by gender but more by age and social status.

The results showed that younger consumers – particularly those aged 25-34 – were the main exhibitors of this behaviour. Twice as many people drank more alcohol than less in the most popular categories, including beer (37% more vs. 15% less), lager (32% vs. 16%) and white wine (32% vs. 15%).

Meanwhile, senior consumers (aged 55+) demonstrated the opposite behaviour. They drank less in 12 of the 13 drink categories included in the study, with cider being the only exception.

Another notable difference was that consumers classed as ABC1 (middle class) tended to drink more than in 2011, whereas those classed as C2DE (working class) drank less across all categories. This suggests that price may well have had a significant bearing here.

According to Mark Whalley, lead consultant at Canadean Consumer, the results were somewhat surprising: “Given the weather, it wasn’t automatic that we would be drinking more than last year. In particular, cider has come to prominence in recent years for its ‘over ice’ positioning, which works much better in the sun. Therefore, the relatively miserable summer might have harmed it, but in fact a quarter of cider drinkers drank more this year than last, which is higher than in any other category. It seems its position as a summer drink has become ingrained in the mind of the consumer, which is great news for the industry.”

“Of course, Euro 2012 and the Olympics will have played a major part, but this also demonstrates how many consumers are treating alcohol as an affordable indulgence in stressful times. For most, it’s not a question of being unaware of the health implications of over-excessive consumption – it’s simply that people are weighing up the pros and cons and deciding that drinking more is worth it.”

One part of the alcoholic drinks market that suffered by comparison was spirits and mixers. Indeed, consumers were more likely to be drinking less gin, vodka, rum, whisky and tequila. “Price will be a contributing factor,” explains Whalley, “but it seems as though in these circumstances – where many will have gathered together in groups in pubs or houses to watch the sport on TV – consumers just tend to favour the more familiar rather than the extravagant.”

Figure 1: Please say whether your consumption of the following alcoholic drinks increased or decreased this summer (2012), compared to last summer (2011), (% UK respondents) 2012

Please say whether your consumption of the following alcoholic drinks increased or decreased this summer (2012), compared to last summer (2011), (% UK respondents) 2012

Source: Canadean © Canadean

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