by Jonny Forsyth, Global Drinks Analyst, Mintel
While most beer sales come from evening occasions, some pioneering US craft beer brands are now setting their sights earlier in the day. Consumers’ growing love affair with weekend brunch means new opportunities for beer brands in the US and beyond, especially among affluent younger urbanites. Here, Global Drinks Analyst Jonny Forsyth highlights three reasons why brunch is beer’s next big opportunity.
- BRUNCH FUELS THE MILLENNIAL LIFESTYLE
Millennials (aged 23-40) and the new iGeneration are increasingly indulging in leisurely weekend brunches, rather than brunching as an occasional treat, as was the case in the 1990s/2000s. According to Mintel’s report on restaurant breakfast and brunch trends in the US, younger Americans are drawn to brunch primarily because they see it as a unique experience, a treat, a chance to socialize and an opportunity to relax. In other words, a perfect counterpoint to frenetic weekday lifestyles.
40 percent of urban Millennials would like to see more drinks specials at brunch
These are all need-states which alcohol—and beer—meet head on, and explains the growing consumption of brunch cocktails such as Mimosas and Bloody Marys, and now beer. Millennials, and particularly urban Millennials, would like to see more brunch-related alcoholic drinks options offered at restaurants. In fact, 40 percent of urban Millennials would like to see more drinks specials at brunch compared to 16 percent of non-Millennials. What’s more, 29 percent of urban Millennials want a wider variety of brunch cocktails compared to 9 percent of non-Millennials.
- INVASION OF THE IMPORTS
So far, it is primarily domestic craft beer brands which have targeted brunch occasions; however, imported premium beers—especially English and Mexican brands—can also capitalize on brunch. According to Mintel research, English cuisine is the most popular breakfast/brunch cuisine type among Americans, followed by Mexican and Southern US, especially among Millennials who are drawn increasingly to ethnic food.
Mexican beers are performing very strongly in the US and brands can use Mexican brunch cuisine to gain further momentum. In fact, given that Mexican beers often taste fairly mild (a criticism among some beer aficionados), they can act as an antidote to the flavorsome and often spicy Mexican brunch cuisine, rather than overpowering the taste buds. Alternatively, micheladas (the spicy Latin American beer and lime juice mix) can make a more “sessionable” option than the popular but powerful brunch option, the Bloody Mary.
- EVERYTHING IN MODERATION
Pairing brunch with beer rather than cocktails has the advantage of a lower alcohol content. After all, brunch is early in the day meaning people are more likely to be drinking in moderation. Craft beers are usually 5-10 percent ABV, so much more sessionable than 20-40 percent ABV cocktails. Yet, brunch occasions can also open up a space for even lower ABV beer options such as Radlers or even non-alcoholic beers. Low/no alcohol beer is performing well in Europe, but not in the US as of yet. While brunch is primarily about indulgence, there is also a growing demand for healthier cuisine which can allow “free from” beers (ie gluten-free) a window of opportunity as a permissible indulgence.
Jonny Forsyth is Mintel’s Global Drinks Analyst and is regularly called upon by both national and international media to provide commentary and analysis on market and consumer trends within the drinks sector. He brings ten years of experience working in the marketing industry, with roles at Starcom Mediavest, AB-Inbev, and Trinity Mirror.