Millennials are shunning beer because they say it makes them 'fat'

drinkingLucy Nicholson/Reuters

  • Almost a third of millennials say they're cutting back on alcohol, up from the 21% who said they were drinking less alcohol in 2018, according to a survey by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
  • Beer is being hit the hardest, with 27% of the millennials who say they are cutting back saying that they are drinking less beer.
  • The top reason the millennials surveyed provided for drinking less beer was due to calorie concerns or believing that "beer makes me fat."
  • Companies are responding by trying to rebrand beer as a healthy option, as well as investing in wine and hard seltzer.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Millennials are cutting back on alcohol, and beer is being hit the hardest.

31% of millennials polled by Bank of America Merrill Lynch said they are drinking less alcohol than before, up from 21% in 2018. BAML surveyed 1,000 millennials in the US and UK, publishing results in a note on Monday.

Among millennials who are drinking less, 35% said they were drinking less of all kinds of alcohol. 27% said they were drinking less beer - more than the 26% who said they were drinking less spirits and 12% who said they were drinking less wine.

Beer sales have slipped in the US in recent years, with sales by volume dropping by 1% in the US from 2017 to 2018, according to Euromonitor data shared with Business Insider.

Read more: White Claw won over the "bros." Now, Natty Light, PBR, and Four Loko want to win them back with even boozier hard seltzer.

According to BAML's survey, the No. 1 reason millennials say they are ditching beer is due to nutritional concerns linked to the carb-heavy beverage.

friends drinking beerIlya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Guinness

37% of the millennials who said that they are drinking less beer said they were ditching the drink because of brews' calorie counts or because "beer makes me fat." 19% explained the change by saying they preferred other types of alcohol, and just 5% said beer is no longer trendy. 29% mentioned other reasons for ditching beer, including "health concerns," breastfeeding a child, and "stopped binge drinking."

AB InBev and other beer makers have attempted to win over anti-beer millennials by reframing brews as nutritious options. Bud Light, for example, centered its Super Bowl campaign on the fact that the beer is not made with corn syrup, unlike rival Coors Light.

"If people start to see beer as something that is not necessarily healthy, then inevitably people will start to drink less beer," Anheuser-Busch InBev US CMO Marcel Marcondes told Business Insider in February.

"But if we manage to make them see clearly beer really is predominantly made with natural ingredients as it is, if we talk about low carbs, low calories, if we have tailor-made propositions like Michelob Ultra, we can change that game," Marcondes continued.

Beer giants are also diversifying outside of beer. AB InBev, Natural Light, and PBR have rolled out hard seltzer brands over the last year in an effort to win over health-conscious customers. AB InBev also acquired Babe Wine, the maker of White Girl Rosé, in June.

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