Description

Alcoholic beverage consumption in Canada, which is led by wine and beer, is shifting. There is a growing trend of consumers reducing their alcohol intake, including out-of-home drinking, influenced by soaring prices and inflation. As the ‘sober curious’ movement grows, the rise in low-alcohol and non-alcoholic alternatives is evident. Besides, health considerations, cultural practices, and taste preferences have notably contributed to individuals opting for drinks other than beer. Despite the changes, the beer and cider market thrive, owing to factors like product uniqueness, premium ingredients, local production and promotional incentives. Influenced by aspects like age, gender, newness to Canada and income, attitudes towards beer range widely, but some things hold relatively steady: beer is consumers’ go-to pairing for certain foods, they are willing to pay more for quality beer and they typically enjoy sticking to their favourite brands.

Notably, social media exerts a massive influence on shaping alcoholic beverage preferences, with platforms like Instagram offering inspiration through cocktails, pairings and new products. The beer-drinking experience itself is evolving, with an increased focus on local sourcing, variety, unique flavours and social drinking aspects like food pairings and rotating taps. But, confusion around the term ‘craft’ persists. The beer market’s saturation and fragmentation, characterized by a multitude of brands and products, create a competitive environment where differentiation, brand loyalty and market positioning become crucial for sustained growth and relevance.

This report looks at the following areas:

  • Alcoholic beverage consumption
  • Changes in alcoholic beverage consumption and attitudes toward cutting back
  • Reasons for purchasing beer and cider
  • Reasons for drinking alcohol, but not beer
  • Attitudes toward purchasing beer
  • The beer drinking experience
  • Social media’s influence on alcoholic beverage inspiration

Cheers! While confusion around the term 'craft beer' may swirl, make no mistake about it: consumers are clear that they prioritize premium ingredients, locally-produced, 'natural' beer.

Candace Baldassarre, Research Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Executive summary

    • What you need to know
    • Consumer trends: key takeaways
    • Market predictions
    • Opportunities
  2. Consumer Insights

    • Consumer fast facts
    • Alcoholic beverage consumption
    • Wine and beer continue to take the cake
    • Graph 1: alcoholic beverage consumption in past three months, 2024
    • 2020 vs 2024: what Canadians are drinking
    • Graph 2: alcoholic beverage consumption in past three months, 2020 vs 2024
    • (Middle-aged) men really like their beer
    • Graph 3: consumed beer in past three months, by age and gender, 2024
    • The Society of Beer Drinking Ladies
    • Older consumers need convincing to try cider
    • Graph 4: consumed cider in past three months, by age, 2024
    • Gendered stereotypes around drinking persist
    • Graph 5: alcoholic beverage consumption in past three months (select), men vs women, 2024
    • One quarter of South Asian consumers don't drink
    • Chinese and Filipino consumers' beer (and cider) consumption stand out
    • Graph 6: beer and cider consumption, overall vs Chinese and Filipino consumers, 2024
    • Ontario is home to the majority of cider drinkers
    • Graph 7: cider drinkers, by region, 2024
    • Convince higher income households that beer and cider can be just as prestigious
    • Where you live and what you drink
    • Graph 8: wine and spirits consumption in past three months, by area lived, 2024
    • Types of beer and cider consumed
    • Apple flavoured cider's popularity over non-apple is obvious
    • Increasing cider's market share
    • Lagers lead by a long shot
    • Graph 9: types of beer consumed in past three months, 2024
    • Preferences around beer align with gender
    • Graph 10: types of beer consumed in past three months (select), men vs women, 2024
    • Younger women gravitate toward fruit-flavoured beers
    • Getting women's attention with fruity sours
    • Age is inextricably connected to types of beer consumed
    • Graph 11: types of beers consumed in past three months (select), by age, 2024
    • Gen Z is giving sour beer a chance
    • Exciting younger consumers with fruit-forward sours
    • Canadian newcomers' beer preferences differ
    • Graph 12: types of beer consumed in past three months (select), overall vs consumers who have lived in Canada for less than five years, 2024
    • Multicultural Canadians branch out in their choices
    • Graph 13: types of beer consumed in past three months (select), by race, 2024
    • Maritimes residents are reticent to wheat beer
    • Graph 14: consumed wheat beer in past three months, by region, 2024
    • Income and financial situation have minimal impact on types of beer consumed
    • Changes in alcoholic beverage consumption
    • Consumption is waning for most alcoholic beverages
    • Graph 15: changes in alcoholic beverage consumption in past year, by type of beverage consumed, 2024
    • Less is more?
    • Younger men are drinking more beer
    • Gen Z is getting excited about imbibing beer
    • Newer Canadians stand out from the pack
    • Graph 16: drinking more alcoholic beverages (select), overall vs consumers living in Canada for less than five years, 2024
    • Dos Equis demonstrates beer can be more than just beer
    • Reasons for drinking more beer
    • Graph 17: reasons for drinking more beer than last year, 2024
    • Reasons for drinking less beer
    • Graph 18: reasons for drinking less beer than last year, 2024
    • Reasons for drinking less beer
    • Beer purchase factors
    • Top factors when purchasing beer
    • Graph 19: important factors when purchasing beer, 2024
    • Gender has a lot to do with it
    • One size does not fit all (when marketing beer to different aged Canadians)
    • Graph 20: important factors when purchasing beer (select), by age, 2024
    • Fruity flavours are the most important factor for younger women when purchasing beer
    • Bright colours and fruity flavours make beer fun for female audiences
    • Newer Canadians have different priorities when buying beer
    • Graph 21: important factors when purchasing beer (select), overall vs consumers living in Canada for less than five years, 2024
    • South Asian beer drinkers look for premium ingredients and low/no alcohol options
    • Graph 22: important factors when purchasing beer (select), overall vs South Asian consumers, 2024
    • 'Craft' beer especially appeals to high income households
    • Liking freebies has nothing to do with income
    • Graph 23: promotional extras are an important purchase factor when purchasing beer, consumers living in households earning less than $70K vs those making $70K or more, 2024
    • Free things get the people going
    • Ontario and British Columbia beer drinkers have different priorities
    • Graph 24: important factors when purchasing beer (select), by region, 2024
    • Confounded by 'craft'
    • Newer Canadians are especially confused about what ‘craft beer’ means
    • Newer Canadians are especially confused about what 'craft beer' means
    • Demystify 'craft'
    • Cider purchase factors
    • What's important what picking beer vs cider is different for Canadians
    • Graph 25: important factors when purchasing beer vs cider, 2024
    • Important factors when purchasing cider
    • Graph 26: important factors when purchasing cider, 2024
    • Heartwood Farm & Cidery offers options
    • Gender has a lot to do with it
    • Nutrition claims matter to younger cider consumers
    • Graph 27: nutrition claims are an important factor when purchasing cider, by age, 2024
    • Dry it is!
    • Barriers to beer consumption
    • A third of alcoholic beverage drinkers don't drink beer
    • Graph 28: reasons for drinking alcoholic beverages but not beer, 2024
    • Men and women's reasons for abstaining from beer differ
    • Graph 29: reasons for drinking alcoholic beverages but not beer (select), by gender, 2024
    • Younger men are concerned around health but feel confused around buying
    • Graph 30: reasons for drinking alcoholic beverages but not beer (select), by age and gender, 2024
    • Newcomers to Canada need beer suggestions
    • Cutting back and alternatives to alcohol
    • Canadians are cutting back
    • Graph 31: [no title]
    • Younger consumers are cutting back and looking for alternatives
    • Graph 32: attitudes toward alcohol (% agree), by age, 2024
    • Newer Canadians are more likely to cut back on alcohol, but are warier of cannabis
    • Graph 33: attitudes toward alcohol (% agree), overall vs consumers living in Canada for less than five years, 2024
    • Quebec isn't as convinced cannabis is an adequate alternative
    • Graph 34: cannabis is a good alternative to alcohol at certain times (% agree), by region, 2024
    • Financial situation impacts cutting back and attitudes toward cannabis
    • Graph 35: attitudes toward alcohol (% agree), by household financial status, 2024
    • Social media and alcoholic beverage inspiration
    • Social media has younger consumers feeling inspired
    • Inspiring newcomers and multicultural Canadians over social media
    • Captivating cider drinkers over social media
    • Attitudes toward purchasing beer
    • Picking beer is a personal affair
    • Younger male drinkers are willing to shell out for quality brews
    • Middle-aged consumers are more open to trying different brands
    • Newer Canadians are looking to labels
    • Highest income households are more willing to experiment and try different brands
    • Graph 36: "I prefer sticking to drinking my favourite beer brands rather than trying out new ones" (% agree), by household income, 2024
    • Visiting breweries and distilleries
    • Breweries and distilleries are fun!
    • Making breweries and distilleries exciting for all
    • Graph 37: "I enjoy visiting breweries and distilleries" (% agree), by age and gender, 2024
    • Newcomers are enthusiastic about visiting breweries and distilleries
    • Households with higher incomes demonstrate a marked preference for visiting breweries and distilleries
    • Graph 38: "I enjoy visiting breweries and distilleries" (% agree), by household income, 2024
    • Excite cider drinkers with in-person at cideries and beyond
    • Interest in breweries and distilleries in urban areas is obvious
    • Graph 39: "I enjoy visiting breweries and distilleries" (% agree), by area lived, 2024
    • The beer drinking experiences
    • Sometimes, there's nothing like a beer
    • Younger men's excitement for beer continues
    • Graph 40: beer is my go-to for certain food pairings (% agree), by age and gender, 2024
    • Rotating taps are exciting!
    • Graph 41: "I prefer when restaurants offer rotating beers on tap" (% agree), by age and gender, 2024
    • Boston Pizza makes pairings a no-brainer
    • New to Canada, but open to beer
    • Higher income households prefer rotating taps
    • Graph 42: "I prefer when restaurants offer rotating beers on tap" (% agree), by household income, 2024
  3. Competitive strategies

    • Launch activity and innovation
    • Exciting beer drinkers with fruit-forward finds
    • Mini keg but mega fun
    • Variety is the spice of life: mixed packs
    • Bottle, can or canvas?
    • Major players offering non-alcoholic options
    • Judging a book (or beer) by its cover
    • Marketing and advertising
    • Food and Drink gives quality food and drink recommendations
    • Molson's sponsorship isn't just about Molson
    • Arts, crafts and beer at Muskoka Brewery
    • Molson celebrates Canadian diversity
    • Making cocktails from beer and cider
    • Cross-category collaborations that make sense
    • Appealing to enthusiasts with hop variety
    • Opportunities
    • Adapt to consumers cutting back with low/no-alcohol options
    • Excite enthusiastic drinkers with in-person experiences and pairing suggestions
    • Don't neglect your packaging
  4. The Market

    • Market drivers
    • Canada's economy: bouncing back but not quite there yet
    • Cutting back on extraneous spending feels necessary
    • Graph 43: actions taken in the past two months, 2024
    • Alcoholic beverage sales see growth
    • Graph 44: per capita value sales of alcoholic beverages at liquor authorities and other outlets, 2004-23
    • Beer and cider sales follow two very different trajectories
    • Graph 45: per capita value sales of beer at liquor authorities and other outlets, 2004-23
    • Graph 46: per capita value sales of cider, coolers and other refreshment beverages at liquor authorities and other outlets, 2004-23
    • Diversity defines Canada
    • Graph 47: distribution of foreign-born population, by region of birth, 1871 to 2036
    • Three countries make up nearly half of Canada's recent immigrants
    • Graph 48: top places of birth of recent immigrants, 2021
    • New to Canada, keen on connectivity: newcomers lead in social media and digital ad engagement
    • Graph 49: number of social media sites/apps visited daily, overall vs Canadians living in Canada for less than ten years, 2023
    • Newcomers' social media use is marked…
    • Graph 50: daily social media use (select), overall vs consumers living in Canada for less than five years, 2023
    • …and multicultural Canadians' is no different
    • Graph 51: daily social media use (select), by race, 2023
    • Interest in sobriety continues to mount
    • An aging population means different priorities
    • Budweiser controversy of 2023
    • Canadian cannabis market is alcoholic beverages' competitor
    • Ongoing changes in regulations around alcohol impact availability
  5. Appendix

    • Consumer research methodology
    • Generations
    • Household financial situation
    • Abbreviations and terms

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