US Insights

American Women Look Beyond Beer and Wine

Ross Tucker

Executive Editor Kantar US Insights

Brands 02.14.2018 / 15:00


Women in the US are showing stronger interest in tequila and whiskey.

American women aren’t relegating themselves to deciding between wine and beer when it comes to a night out with friends, a dinner date or an evening at home.

Results from Lightspeed’s millennial panel, VICE Vices, show that while beer and wine remain the alcohol of choice, tequila and whiskey were preferred by more than a quarter of American women.

Alcohol consumption on the whole has been on the rise in America. A 2017 study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that consumption rose 11% between 2002 and 2013. Women’s consumption rose nearly 16% during that period. Our survey, conducted between November 2017 and January 2018, indicates that the trend has continued.

The 2017 study did not delve into what's causing the rise in alcohol consumption, but cultural changes driven by more women entering the workforce have more than likely played a role. Not only are more women working, they’re earning more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, full-time female workers had median weekly earnings of $771 in the fourth quarter of 2017, a 19% increase from $647 median weekly earnings in the fourth quarter of 2008. 

“Women, and men, are waiting longer to get married, buy homes, and have children. As a result, their 20-something years are about personal exploration and new experiences—and alcohol becomes a great vehicle to enable both,” said Lindsay Kunkle, vice president at Kantar Consulting’s Futures Practice. “Winning these women early in their drinking years then has lasting effects, even as they start families.” 

Data from Kantar Consulting's U.S. MONITOR shows that women are increasingly seeking out brands and experiences that expand their horizons. In 2017, 73% of women between the ages of 21 and 49 who drink alcohol at least once a week said they agreed with the statement “I am more likely to choose a brand if it exposes me to new sensations or experiences.” That’s up from 64% in 2013. Similarly, 83% of women agreed that it was “important to me to try things I have never done before, even if it may not lead to a successful outcome.” In 2013, 71% of women agreed with that statement.

“These are big jumps over the last few years,” said Pete Rose, executive vice president with Kantar Consulting’s Futures Practice. “Obviously, food and beverage is a tremendous inroad for such experiences. Whether it's the latest craft beer, the local distillery, or the hidden gem of a lesser known small-batch whiskey or tequila, these are the experiences that allow women to enjoy -- and more importantly, share -- occasions with friends and family to get the most out of life during unusually turbulent times.”


Beer was ranked as the alcohol of choice in our survey, with 56.6% of respondents describing it as “one of my favorites.” Women say they’re drinking more of it as well. 76.5% of female respondents said they drink the same amount or more than they did last year. Only 23% said they are drinking less beer.

When we asked why they consumption was on the rise, nearly 60% said they like the taste more than other types of alcohol. After that, the responses suggest economic shifts that have benefited women may be playing a role. Nearly 43% of women said they are going out more and 25% said they can afford more now.


Almost 70% of women said they are drinking the same amount or more wine this year than last year, and only 31% said they are drinking less.

As with beer, preferring the taste was a leading factor for the increase. But here again, there's suggestion of the impact of broader economic gains, with some 28% of women saying they can afford more now than they could in the previous year.

On average, women pay $19.71 for a bottle of wine. But there’s little to no brand loyalty. Almost 72% of women said they disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement “I am band loyal when it comes to wine.”


Nearly 70% of women said they’re drinking the same or more tequila than they did in the previous year.

According to the Distilled Spirits Council, tequila volumes shot up 121% to 15.9 million 9-liter cases in 2016 compared with just 7.2 million in 2002.

“One of the keys to tequila’s US growth has been distillers’ ability to offer a product for every budget and occasion,” reads the organization’s tequila category report. “While value and premium brands are the backbone of the US market, the fastest growth has been in the high end and super premium brands.” Super premium tequila volumes shot up 706% between 2002 and 2016.


63% of women said they’re drinking the same or more whiskey this year than last.

Why are they drinking more? 32% said they can afford more now and 57% said they like the taste more.

US Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey consumption trends have been similarly robust according to the DSC. Between 2011 and 2016, the number of 9-liter cases sold has risen 35.6% to 21.7 million. In 2017, 4.2 million 9-liter cases of Irish Whiskey were sold in the US., up 880% from 434,000 in 2002.

“The Irish Whiskey category has benefited from drinkers’ desire to “trade up” from Premium to High-End and Super-Premium products. Since 2002, High-End Premium and Super Premium Irish Whiskey grew a staggering 805 percent and 4975 percent, respectively.”

Source: Kantar, Lightspeed, Kantar Consulting

Editor's Notes

To speak with the author or for inquiries, contact us. Follow @Kantar and sign up for our insight alerts.

Latest Stories

Micro Moment insights uncover potential opportunities for beverage brands.

One-day delivery can be expected to ramp up in key international markets like the UK, Germany and Japan.

Kantar examined the online giant’s advertising efforts across various media from July 1 through July 16.

Premium products, small brands and new retail lead the future trend of FMCG market in China

Advertisers spent $42.6 million on TV ads shown during the Women’s World Cup.

Related Content