Why ‘Active Agers’ Could Help Drive Post-Pandemic Sales
Consumers over 50 are drinking more, spending more, and embracing innovation more than past generations. The industry should stop ignoring them
A few years ago, Bart Watson, the chief economist for the Brewers Association, decided to stage a craft beer tasting for the residents of his grandmother’s retirement community. Many tried an IPA for the first time and, as Watson recalls, “were kind of shocked that anybody would make a beer that bitter.” Yet one man loved it. “He told me, ‘It’s the best beer I’ve ever tasted. I’m going to buy a six-pack.’”
The experience revealed a valuable lesson: While many assume older drinkers become set in their ways as they age, there are many consumers over 50 who are open to new experiences—if the industry makes the effort to educate and recruit them, believes Watson.
The beverage alcohol industry has prioritized young consumers for decades, hyper-focusing on millennials in terms of marketing spend and energy. The 55-plus demographic is often disregarded because “they’re seen as already being set in their preferences with fewer consumer years” ahead of them, says Watson.
Yet this age group has been evolving. They consume more alcohol and more readily embrace innovation than past generations. The ongoing pandemic has provided new evidence: During quarantine, a growing number of older drinkers have pushed out of their comfort zones and ordered alcohol online, many for the first time. Drizly, for example, saw a rise in purchasing by those over 50 years old.
“After the pandemic, will they also start looking around a lot more and feel more confident to try new things?” wonders Tara Empson, the CEO of Empson USA. This, she believes, could be a new era for the older drinker.
For an industry facing a post-pandemic economic recovery, as well as a decline in consumption amongst younger consumers, older drinkers with deep pockets could play an important role. But figuring out how to maximize their spending power will require innovation and hard work, and a toolbox that includes everything from new products to packaging and even marketing strategies.
By Andrew Kaplan | SevenFifty Daily
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