Brew Gets Bad Rap

Less than a third of African Americans show preference for beer

NEW YORK -- Oh no, not another story about the troubles beer is having! Yes, it's true. But this one comes from a slightly different angle. While continuing to show the recent growth of spirits coming at the expense of beer, this tale looks closely at a specific demographicin this case, 21 to 30-year-old African Americansand what its members are drinking.

If Hispanics represent the easy' demo to win over based on high preference for beer and generally high willingness to switch due to sampling, day-fresh [beer] and draft, then African American young [image-nocss] adults will be correspondingly hard' [to win over], noted the latest update to Deutsche Bank Securities' How 20-Somethings Drink survey of the youngest group of legal drinkers in the United States. Interest in light beer appears low, and there does not appear to be much resonance among this group for new products.

According to the survey, a six-month project designed to track trends and identify which companies are capitalizing on them, only 29% of 20-something African Americans prefer beer over wine or spirits; 50% prefer spirits, and 21% prefer wine. For non-African Americans, 48% prefer beer.

We believe part of the driving force for this trend is the marriage of spirits and hip-hop/rap culture, the report from the New York City-based investment bank said. Rap songs are pseudo-ads for the liquor industry. Spirit brands are featured in many hip-hop/rap [songs and] videos, such as 50 cent's Got Me a Bottle and Snoop Dogg's Gin & Juice, both of which name spirits by brand names.

The report also states that light beers, one of the bright spots in otherwise lackluster sales as of late, do not hold the appeal to African American 20-somethings that they do for other demographics.

Diet is not of great importance to African Americans, which may be why preference for beer remains low. Brand messages of light and low carb fall on deaf ears, it said; however, once a brand catches this demographic's attention, consumers will make it a mainstay, according to the report. African American loyalty to their favorite brand illustrates why there is a need for marketing programs that target this demographic; 71% of African Americans are loyal to their favorite brands compared to 61% of the other ethnic groups.