Millennial Drinking Premium Spirits Discount liquor is falling out of fashion.

Millennials are now reaching up when shopping for at the liquor store and grabbing high-end, super-premium spirits as their drink of choice.

Sales of super-premium spirits and high-end premium spirits has grown in volume between 6 and 7% each year from 2012 to 2017. This significantly out-paced the premium and value segments of the market.

Millennials are searching for products to consume socially that taste better, have fewer calories, but are higher in alcohol content. They are choosing beer less and less because it provides the opposite.

What is super and ultra-premium?

When thinking of high-end spirits, it’s not purely based on price per bottle, but rather supplier revenue per case. The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) actually divides all spirit categories into four segments: Value, Premium, High-End Premium, and Super Premium.

When thinking of super-premium products, they are sold on the regular retail market, but are typically in limited supply. They are priced, packaged, and promoted with prestige in mind and targeted for consumers seeking that feeling and experience when enjoying the products.

In general, super-premium spirits cost a consumer 75 to 100% more than the category average.

Premium Spirits

Even outside the super-premium category, the spirits market is having a resurgence and growing at unmatched rates. Spirits now account for 37.4% of the beverage alcohol market. Volume is up 5 million cases from last year, and this segment of the industry saw its ninth-consecutive year of sales growth, totaling $44 billion in sales. And millennials are the spirits industry’s biggest customer.

The new consumer

How and why people purchase spirits is changing. The new consumer has confidence in the economy, so that person is able to reach for higher-end more expensive spirits.

Millennials’ buying power is increasing, and evidence shows this group is making the shift from beer to liquor. The spirits’ market share increased to 36% in 2016, making a big jump up from 29% of the total beer, spirits, and wine categories in 2000.

Just 29% of all legal-aged drinkers are millennials, but this group is purchasing more than 32% of all spirits. And they’re buying the fancy stuff.

Millennials want to have a great experience drinking their spirits. Whether that means sipping vodka after a tour of a craft distillery, sipping a new cocktail in a fancy bar, or sharing a great-tasting liquor while staying home and hanging out with friends.

They also care about the health ramifications of drinking too much or a high-caloric drink. Spirits provide an alternative to high-sugar wines and calorie dense beers.

How suppliers can capitalize on super-premium demand

If your brand currently does not have a product that fits into the super-premium category, consider evaluating what product you feel is your best in show. Then, for the year ahead see if you can make some tweaks to enhance the flavor. Next, up the price to help elevate it into the super-premium category.

If your brand currently has a super-premium brand, but sales are not mirroring industry trends, consider investing in your marketing and advertising. Millennials care about what goes into their products, the experience they will have drinking it, and what the brand stands for. Craft an advertising story that portrays these things to potential new customers.

Meredith Galante

Meredith Galante is a freelance writer based in New York City. She has been published in USA Today, amNewYork, Newsday, Square and more. She's interviewed then-Mayor Cory Booker, Ryan Seacrest, and other New Jersey folks who made their community better. She's covered breaking news, sports, features, and now frequently writes about small businesses.