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Millennials - a thirst for inspiration

Haygarth’s highly successful insight report – The Inspiration Generation – explored the fascinating relationship between millennials and food; gaining an in-depth understanding of their motivation and attitudes around grocery shopping. What we uncovered was a fascinating insight into the most experimental and engaged generation yet; highly culturally aware and always online looking for new recipes to try and ways to cook.

However, we wanted to explore another untouched and untested area of millennial culture; and whether our findings would ring true in another sector: beers, wines and spirits.

There has been a 40% rise in teetotal millennials since 2004; despite this, in recent years we have seen the resurgence of cocktail culture, the rise of craft beers and the availability of wines from across the world that previously were not accessible to the UK market. The consumers driving this vibrant discovery-led culture have been the younger, more experimental millennials, for whom alcohol remains a key part of their social life. However the question remains, in a world of unparalleled choice when choosing a drink, how do this generation discover and learn to create new drinks?

For this insight report we surveyed 2,000 European millennials to understand how they are expanding their drinking repertoire and how they shop for and discover new drinks.

As uncovered in our previous research, millennials are spread across various different life stages. Be it leaving home for the first time, undertaking their first job or moving in with a partner, there are varying priorities and pressures which will affect their consumption and attitudes of alcohol. However there is one truism across the board, millennials are the experimenters actively searching for and wanting to be inspired.

We found that over half (54%) of millennials regularly have three or more different types of drink a week. Millennials expressed an insatiable thirst for novelty with over a third experimenting with new drinks purely driven by the desire to try something new. However the biggest influencer is still word of mouth, with 64% saying recommendations from friends drove trial of new drinks.

The power and role of retail and the supermarket should not be overlooked. 72% of millennials explore the alcohol aisle of the supermarket regularly, and 57% specifically seek out new drinks and inspiration regularly within retail. With such a high number of millennials now looking for inspiration within retail, has the landscape of discovery potentially changed?

Crucially, we found that despite this constant desire for novelty and experimentation, millennials are being left cold by uninspiring supermarket offerings. 72% of millennials feel they would like more inspiration in this environment regarding alcohol. Shaking up the tired, traditional alcohol retail format offers a significant opportunity to both brands and retailers alike to re-engage millennials right where they are looking to make new discoveries.

Outside of retail, the influence of experts should not be disregarded, 32% felt that recommendations by an expert, including online, encourage them to try new drinks. This is also supported by the large number of millennials who have used social media, notably Facebook and YouTube to be inspired around drinks.

When looking at UK millennials in comparison to their European counterparts, we found that in the UK shoppers are more price conscious and brand-led when compared to those in France and Italy. Despite this, a major similarity is that traditional retail mechanics still apply across Europe, with around a quarter of millennials feeling that promotions such as a gift with purchase would encourage them to try a new drink. This highlights that, despite the constant quests for new drinks and inspiration, the millennial generation aren’t adverse to marketing and retail communications, and that fundamentally retailers and brands alike should be encouraging and crucially helping this generation of shoppers to discover and try new beers, wines and spirits and quench their thirst for experimentation.

The message here is clear; by effectively engaging millennials – through re-invigorating the drinks retail environment, offering credible guidance and advice and focussing on powerful ‘peer-to peer’ recommendation networks – brands will be able capitalise on the significant growth potential of the ‘Inspiration Generation’ market.

This is just a taster (excuse the pun) of what we uncovered. If you’d like to know more, or to get our take on how your brand could be connecting better with this audience, please get in touch with Suzy Ray on