Drinking At The Bar Isn't So Cool Anymore

A new report on consumer spending habits indicates the bar scene might be in trouble.

Once the COVID-19 vaccine promised us a glimpse of "post-pandemic" life, there was hardly a restaurant or bar in sight that wasn't flooded with people just itching to get out of the house after a year cooped up indoors. Now, the tides are turning again, and drinking habits are shifting back to the comfort of their our home bars, according to a new report from data analytics company Kantar.

Marketing Dive reports that the new study indicates people are not only drinking less alcohol overall, but when they do drink, it tends to be at home more than in past years. Perhaps unsurprisingly, inflation has had an impact on this change in drinking habits.

Kantar's report, "Shopping for Beverage Alcohol," surveyed 2,000 consumers who purchased alcohol in the past three months. Just over half of respondents were women and just under half were men. A majority of survey respondents were millennials (38%) and the minority were Gen Z (8%). That makes sense, since only a portion of the latter generation is legally allowed to purchase alcohol yet.

The general trend of younger generations drinking less has been evident for a while now, and this survey only further demonstrates it. Many survey respondents have opted for beverages other than booze, with 21% of Gen Z and 18% of millennials saying they purchased nonalcoholic beer in the past 12 months. Plus, 12% of all consumers surveyed said they've already switched to drinking nonalcoholic options, and 29% said they're interested in alcohol-free products and would probably buy them.

To stay on trend and deliver what the people want, more bars and restaurants are likely to make nonalcoholic beers and mocktails a more prominent offering on their menus. However, even that might not be enough to get people in the door, because in addition to consumers steadily moving away from alcohol, those who are drinking are increasingly opting to do so at home.

The study found that 23% of respondents said they drank more at home over the past year and only 16% said they drank more at bars. With the gap in pricing between dining out and eating at home becoming larger, it's no wonder budget-conscious consumers are mixing their own drinks.

"Even after the pandemic, shoppers are consuming more alcoholic beverages at home than at bars and they are cutting back on them," Renata de Moura, author of the study and senior director of shopper and category insights at Kantar, told Marketing Dive. "And that's mainly because inflation is impacting them. They're trying to cut back on premium drinks out of home and they're buying more and consuming more at home."

The types of drinks people are interested in and are purchasing also suggests that it's just plain cheaper to drink at home. Per the survey, 33% of consumers bought hard seltzer and 37% bought ready-to-drink cocktails, as opposed to other alcoholic beverages. Let's face it, some folks might just consider it more worthwhile to guzzle a White Claw at home than to order a specialty cocktail at a bar, no matter how well prepared the drink might be.