NEW YORK -- Sales of beer, wine and spirits are all trending up, and multicultural consumers are a key force behind this growth, according to a report by Nielsen. In the last year, penetration of alcohol beverages ticked up for Asian-Americans and Hispanics. Additionally, estimated expenditures for both African-Americans and Asian-Americans in the alcohol beverage space (+6.6% and +10.2%, respectively) eclipsed the category rate (+3.7%) by several points, the research company said.
And a new consumer survey by Nielsen of nearly 200,000 U.S. consumers over the age of 21 shows distinct differences in which alcohol beverages are most preferred by varying demographics.
Here's a look at what these diverse consumer groups are looking for in the alcohol-beverage aisle ...
African-Americans prefer to spend the majority of their alcohol beverage dollars on spirits, according to the report.
Vodka has shown the strongest growth with African-Americans, and these shoppers are 14% more likely than the general population to have consumed the drink within the last month. In addition to vodka, African-Americans also are increasingly purchasing gin, bourbon, brandy and cognac.
Given their preference for spirits, it’s not surprising that African-Americans are more likely to buy alcohol drinks from small stores (such as independent liquor stores or convenience stores where relevant) or social spaces (such as stadiums, night clubs, etc.) than from grocery and club stores.
Hispanic shoppers, on the other hand, get behind beer in a big way, the report said. This consumer group gives a greater share of their wallet to beer than other multicultural consumers. In fact, 44% of Hispanic adults claim to have consumed a beer within the past 30 days, slightly above the U.S. average overall.
Hispanics prefer domestic light beers and imported beers, with brands in those segments receiving more than their fair share of Hispanic dollars.
Of all the multicultural groups, Asian-Americans are the most engaged across the whole beverage-alcohol industry, Nielsen said.
These consumers value variety. More than 40% of Asian-American legal-drinking-age adults have consumed or purchased a bottle of wine, spirits or beer in the past month. In the spirits category, Asian-Americans consume whiskey more frequently in a month than other spirits.
These consumers also are more likely than other multicultural consumers to buy premium-priced wine, highlighting their preference for quality.
Even within these categories, multicultural consumer groups have flavor preferences that influence their choices at the store.
African-Americans and Hispanics tend to prefer products with sweeter notes; both gravitate toward white wines with a sweeter profile, such as moscato, the report said.
In the hopes of appealing to these consumers and driving growth, many alcohol-beverage producers (particularly spirits producers) are expanding their flavor offerings to include sweeter or fruitier variations.
These include the emergence of hard sodas, which build upon the insight of flavor appeal. These brands seem well positioned to score some success with multicultural consumers, New York-based Nielsen said, considering the relative preference indicated by sales of fruit-flavored, full-calorie soft drinks among African-Americans (52% above expectation), Asian-Americans (15% above expectation) and Hispanics (14% above expectation).