Monday, November 2, 2009

The Business Geek Strikes Again

Wanted to point out an article over at Wine and Spirits Daily from last week because a) the article has some really interesting things to say, and b) to give some link love to a pretty darn cool virtual rag.

The 2010 Census will show that "the concept of an 'average American' is gone, probably forever," says demographics expert Peter Francese. ... Peter said results will likely find that "no household type neatly describes even one-third of households. The iconic American family -- married couple with children -- will account for a mere 22% of households." The most prevalent type of U.S. household? Married couples with no kids, followed closely by single-person households. There will be more "blended families, single-parent families and multigenerational families, as well as multiple families doubling up in one household."

In one respect: duh. But, it is interesting to see these things being spelled out explicitly. I think there are couple things at work here to change these family units. First, people are marrying and having kids later. My super-scientific survey of "people I know" reveals that all were married after the age of 25. And the one who wasn't is now divorced. My survey group also reveals that people are having kids later - mostly in late-20s and early-30s. Third, people are moving out of the house and becoming independent earlier. For the most part, 21 year olds are not living at home, like they might have in the past, but are out on their own - often living with roommates.

So, aside from the interesting demographics, what does that mean? Well, it means that people have significant piles of disposable income from the ages of 21-29. They aren't supporting families at a young age (like their parents probably were), they aren't living at home if they are single, and they are employed in jobs that allow them to pay rent. This also happens to be a group that likes beer, as opposed to wine. So, if these consumers can be shown that beer is "respectable" and "dignified" I would't be surprised to see the 40-70 demographic (typically wine drinkers) change to a greater percentage of beer drinkers in the coming years.

While 80% of people age 65-plus will be white non-Hispanics, just 54% of children under age 18 will be white non-Hispanics, and will account for fewer than half of births by 2015. Hispanics will be both the nation's fastest-growing and largest minority. ... And in the nation's 10 largest cities, Peter says, "no racial or ethnic category describes a majority of the population....with the younger population substantially more diverse than the old."

Wow. Just. Wow. So beer for rich white kids will be a bad idea. More importantly, though, is that trends in Hispanic and non-white cultures are going to become even more important. A bad omen for those of us that don't like clam juice anywhere near our beer, but a good omen for breweries that play with convention and attract a wide audience.

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