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7 Reasons Millennials Are Drinking Less Alcohol Than Older Generations

Last Updated on December 16, 2019 by Inspire Malibu

It’s true, Millennials – people around the ages of 22 to 38 years old – are changing up the alcohol consumption game. This news, while positive and a move in the right direction, still comes with a dose of reality.

Reasons Millennials Are Drinking Less Alcohol

Alcohol remains the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States and is responsible for an estimated 88,000 fatalities a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That’s also not to say that Millennials as a group don’t face other generational challenges. But removing at least some of the alcohol consumption from the equation will improve this demographics’ odds of living longer, healthier lives.

Why Are Millennials are Drinking Less Than Their Parent’s Generation?

1. Saving Money

Saving money is not just practical for this age group, it’s a must.

On average, Millennials earn about 20 percent less than their parents did at the same age, reports USA Today.

A night out drinking, especially in larger urban areas where cocktails are easily in the $13 range and a cheap beer is $10, can cost a pretty, unnecessary penny.

When something has to give, they’re cutting back on alcohol.

2. Perceived Work Martyrs

Despite making less than their parents, the Harvard Business Review quotes a study that found “Millennials are more likely to see themselves – proudly – as ‘work martyrs’ than older workers, and less likely to use vacation time.

The reality may paint a different picture, but at least this is the way they see it from their perspective.

3. Better Productivity

For career-minded Millennials, imbibing too much during “off-hours” can have a negative impact on job productivity and creativity.

The CDC writes that excessive alcohol consumptions costs the U.S. economy about a quarter trillion dollars, with the majority of that – 72 percent – lost in the workplace.

Because many of them are starting new careers, it’s much easier to handle the daily tasks at work when not tired or hungover.

4. Improved Ways of Relieving Stress

As it turns out, Millennials are using their “off-hours” to stay physically active, practicing yoga, working out and meditating.

These kinds of activities are all-natural stress relievers, alleviating some of the need for a drink to “blow off steam.”

5. Better Life Balance

Better life balance means people can have a healthier relationship to alcohol without having to totally give it up.

“[Drinking] has to be more of an occasion for me now, like someone’s birthday or a girls’ night,” 37-year-old Denver resident, Cassie Schoon, told The Atlantic. “So, it’s once every couple of weeks instead of a weekly occurrence.”

6. Marijuana Legalization

The legalization and decriminalization of marijuana definitely comes into play as well.

A 2017 study found a 12 percent decrease in alcohol sales in counties with some form of legalized cannabis.

No doubt some Millennials would prefer to “smoke a bowl” over a beer, though consuming too much marijuana isn’t healthy either.

7. Social Media Image

“Control has become a key watchword for today’s younger drinkers,” global food-and-drink analyst Jonny Forsyth said in a 2017 press release.

The lives of Millennials, more than older generations, have been and are documented online, on social media and maintaining a positive social media image is important to for this group.

8. **BONUS** Decreased Binge Drinking

Research suggests that Generation Z, the young up and comers behind Millennials, are also drinking less.

“The overall declines in frequent binge drinking indicate that national and state-level policies and programs targeted at underage drinking may have been effective,” a researcher at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, Dr. Bohyun Joy Jang, told the New York Times.

The Power of Millennials

The trend of Millennials drinking less alcohol isn’t only witnessed here in the United States, as the U.K. has seen a similar decrease in drinking rates for this age group.

This shift has impacted some major brewers in the beer industry to examine other revenue streams such as increasing offerings of non-alcoholic beers as well as premium brands with a per item higher cost.

Anheuser-Busch InBev showed a recent revenue decline of 3 percent for two of its main brands, and much of the decline can be attributed to Millennials.

In addition to drinking less, Millennials are also smoking less – cigarettes, that is. They have moved to vaping, at least for now, and marijuana, as legalization rolls across the country.

Any major generational change can have an impact on society and corporate revenue, and we’re witnessing some of it now with this generation. As Millennials get married and have kids, their ideals will inevitably flow through to their children and the trend of drinking less alcohol could be a good thing for generations to come.


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