New Zealanders love a good drop - 78% of us, to be exact, are drinkers of some variety. Baby Boomers (born between 1946 - 1964) and Millennials (born between 1980 - 1996) collectively account for 58% of the drinking population. Millennials are a slightly larger group in total, at 1,080,000; while Boomers account for 987,000 drinkers.

Boomers and Millennials have different occasions for drinking. Boomers are more likely to enjoy a drink to unwind after work - more than one-in-five (21%) say this is a frequent habit. Boomers are also 19% less likely than the drinking population to say they only drink on the weekend. In contrast, Millennials are 22% more likely to only drink on the weekends.

Drinking occasions are far from the only difference between the two generations. Millennials seek a variety in their beverage choices, the majority (65%) drink more than three types of alcohol and 15% have an alcoholic beverage repertoire that ranges across all five categories (wine, beer, cider, RTDs and spirits). It’s not surprising then that almost one-in-two Millennials like to try new or different beers, they’ve been faster in the uptake of cider and are more likely to say that they like to drink craft beer. On the other hand, almost half of Boomers drink a maximum of two beverage types with wine and beer the favourites. A quarter choose to pay more for premium quality wine.

These generations are making different shopping choices too. Boomers are adding their beverage of choice to their grocery shop - of those who have bought alcohol in the last month (off premise), 38% bought exclusively from the supermarket (24% more likely than the alcohol buying population).

Millennials sit at the other end of the scale with 61% of buyers shopping exclusively at liquor stores. Interestingly Boomers spend more on alcohol than Millennials spending $7 more per week on alcohol than Millennials (or $378 more per year) and Boomers are 13% more likely than Millennials to say they are in financially comfortable circumstances.

The differences in how Boomers and Millennials consume and shop for alcohol illustrates how important it is for both suppliers and retailers to understand the profile and the needs of the people who are purchasing your brands and shopping for alcohol in your stores.

Millennials desire for variety presents the challenge of how to be the drink of choice given their wide alcoholic repertoire and their appetite for what is new and exciting. On the other hand Boomers have established tastes and know what they like, they are spending more on alcohol and are in a more comfortable financial situation - the opportunity is to trade them up to more premium offerings.

By Helene Maurer, Associate Director, Nielsen; and Carly Holloway, Manager, Nielsen