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Millennials’ Top 15 Alcohol Brands Are…

Which alcohol brands are dominating among Millennial drinkers? We turned to our brand tracker-powered Millennials & Brands report to find out…


  • White Claw is the top alcohol brand with Millennials, showing how dominant hard seltzer has become in a short time
  • While beers make their top 15 ranking, alternate alcoholic beverages have clearly created competition and are winning affinity

Millennials are the largest generation, and their spending power eclipses all others. They’ve been tackling milestones that make them the dominant spending group in many industries, and all brands still need to understand how to reach this gen to win their significant purchasing power. YPulse’s recently published Millennials & Brands Special Report is an in-depth analysis of the top brands among Millennial consumers to explore who is capturing their affinity, and how they’re doing it.

To find out what brands are successfully winning young consumers’ love, we turned to data in YPulse’s exclusive youth brand tracker. YPulse’s brand tracker monitors the brand health of over 1000 brands on a weekly basis, collecting over 200K interviews of young consumers across both North America and Western Europe per year to reveal 13-39-year-olds’ affinity for brands across industries. The brand data looks at 20 youth-centric diagnostics, carefully chosen and tested metrics including which brands they think are cool, reflect who they are, are talked about, and more. These measures roll up into YScore+, a snapshot of how your brand is perceived in the minds of young consumers.

Our Millennials & Brands Report breaks down the top-scoring brands among this generation overall and by industry—including alcoholic beverages, which Millennials are undoubtedly influencing more than Gen Z thanks to their current ages. So, which alcoholic beverage brands have a top YScore+ among Millennials?

Hard seltzer is clearly not a passing fad with Millennial drinkers
White Claw summer started in 2019, and it clearly never actually ended for Millennials. During lockdowns, the hard seltzer brand was popular with TikTokers who made White Claw slushies their drinks of quarantine. YPulse’s drinking and nightlife research shows that while beer is still the alcohol that Millennials are most likely to drink, there’s no question that hard seltzer has taken the industry by storm, eating away market share from other spirits and clearly winning affinity of young drinkers. Of course, the market has gotten incredibly crowded in the years since White Claw first showed up, and sales volume for the category has reportedly slowed. That said, it’s clear that hard seltzer isn’t just a trend as Millennial drinkers’ affinity for brands like White Claw are staying strong. And they’re still scoring the brand highly as one that’s “hot” and has a “bright future.”

Non-beer brands are winning Millennials’ affinity
It’s significant that the top three scoring brands on the ranking are hard seltzers or malt beverage brands. Following White Claw is vodka brand Smirnoff , which is of course also responsible for Smirnoff Ice, with a YScore+ of 26%, and Mike’s Hard Lemonade with a 26% YScore+ as well. Once upon a time, big beer brands could have counted on being at the top among young drinkers, but those days have passed.

The continued popularity of these non-wine and beer alternatives is having an impact on the industry. For one thing, while craft beer is still popular, we’ve noted that all beer might have a Millennial problem: between November 2016 and December 2019, the number who chose beer decreased from 64% to 54%, putting beer on shaky ground. Meanwhile, wine has its own struggles to contend with: in 2019, for the first time in 25 years, the amount of wine that Americans drank declined. Industry tracker IWSR tells The Wall Street Journal, “Millennials are just not embracing wine with open arms compared to previous generations, with the rise in low and no-alcohol products and general consumer trends toward health and wellness, wine is in a tough place.”

Beer is adapting and innovating to win their share of the market
Of course, beer brands still make the ranking and are doing everything they can to reach young drinkers. Bud Light, the highest scoring beer brand with a YScore+ of 24%, has done everything from create sponsored hashtags on TikTok, to launching merch, and most recently, dabbled in limited-edition NFTs during the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, other beer brands that appear in their rankings, Corona and Heineken, have been attempting to reach the sober-curious Millennials by releasing their own non-alcoholic drinks.

YPulse Business users can access the full Millennials and Brands Special Report and data here.

Don’t have a YPulse Business account? Find out more here.