Australian beer on the decline, while imports grow

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 11th November 2013

Over the last five years, the proportion of Australians aged 18 or older who consume local beer in an average four-week period has declined by four per cent, while consumption of imported beer is on the rise, according to findings from market research organisation Roy Morgan Research.

Another study by market research organisation Lifelounge also found that beer was out of favour with younger drinkers, while the popularity of spirits had grown.

More Australians drinking imported beer

A recent study by Roy Morgan Research found that beer-drinking preferences are changing — with an increasing number of Australian adults turning their backs on locally produced beer. In the year to September 2013, 35 per cent of Australians aged 18 and older drank Australian beer in an average four weeks, down from 39 per cent in the year to September 2009. Over the same period, the proportion of Australians who drank imported beer in any given four weeks grew from 14 per cent to 17 per cent.

This development coincides with a shift in attitude towards local beers. As of September 2013, just 13 per cent of Aussie drinkers agreed that ‘Australian beer is the only beer worth drinking’ — whereas this figure sat at 18 per cent in 2009.

Youngest drinkers least likely to drink local brew

Local beer suffered its biggest fall from favour among the 18–25 age bracket. In the year to September 2009, 43 per cent of drank local beer in an average four-week period, but this had fallen to 35 per cent by 2013. Meanwhile, 28 per cent drank imported beer in an average four weeks in 2013, increasing from 23 per cent in 2009.

“A key differentiator in type of beer consumed is age, with those aged under 25 showing a greater preference for imported beers than those aged 25 and over,” said Geoffrey Smith, General Manager Consumer Products, Roy Morgan Research. “However, imported beer isn’t the only alcoholic beverage gaining ground with this demographic: cider consumption has sky-rocketed among young drinkers since 2009 (from 6.8 per cent to 21.3 per cent),” he said.

Australian Food News reported in August 2013 that the The number of young Australians drinking cider in an average four week period has almost doubled in the last two years.

“While there’s no single reason behind the overall decline in local beer consumption, Australia’s consistently strong dollar means the price difference between imported and Aussie beers has come down; plus imported beers are more widely available than ever,” Mr Smith said. “As new young drinkers come of age, it will be interesting to see if this move towards imported beer continues to gain ground,” he said.

Roy Morgan Research said its new classification system, Helix Personas, found that Metrotechs — communities of educated, urban professionas — were most likely to drink imported beers. Families (young, outer-suburban families) was the Helix community most likely to drink local beers.

“It’s crucial for our local brewers to have a detailed understanding not only of who their customers are but also of how they differ from imported-beer drinkers,” Mr Smith said. “This will ensure they retain their edge in this increasingly competitive market,” he said.

Youth favour spirits

Meanwhile, a youth-focused survey by market research organisation Lifelounge found that spirits brands, such as Smirnoff and Jack Daniels, were more popular with the 16 to 30 years age bracket than beer brands.

The Lifelounge Sweeney Report, formerly known as Urban Market Research, found that Smirnoff was the favourite alcohol brand for 11 per cent of 16 to 30 year old Australians, while Jack Daniels was favoured by 10 per cent.

Corona was the leading beer brand, alongside cider brand Rekordelig (6 per cent). The leading Australian alcohol brands were Carlton Draught and Bundaberg Rum, which were both favoured by 4 per cent of 16 to 30 year old Australians.

“Young men don’t need to drink beer to be cool; those days are long gone,” said Dion Appel, CEO Lifelounge. “The future is an influential equal gender consumer with a sweeter palate. It’s a new era for booze brands and only the brave will survive,” he said.

Local beer consumption on the decline in Australia