Why Millennials Are Buying Top-Shelf Booze

© Patrick Ryan / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Gillie Houston Posted June 06, 2016

They want to post it on Instagram.

Millennials post every aspect of their lives on Instagram: what they're eating, what they're wearing, what booze they're buying. In fact, the street cred that comes with posting a quality bottle has driven Millennials to get more serious—and spendy—about their alcohol choices. A new study titled "Behind the Bottle: An Exploration of Trends in the Spirits Category" by Evolve Media and Hava Media has found that Instagram has a bigger impact on young people's purchasing habits than you may have thought.

In a survey of 1,605 adults, the research groups found that 42 percent of people over the age of 21 considered social media an "influential touchpoint to get ideas and recommendations of what spirits to buy." On the flip side, only 24 percent said television and newspaper ads affected their booze buying habits.

"Knowledge of spirits is becoming social currency among Millennials and they will order name brands to impress their peers," says Brian Fitzerald, president and co-founder of Evolve Media. "What brand someone decides to buy depends strongly on what they're doing, who they're with and where they're drinking."

When asked if they "sometimes order a premium brand just to impress my peers," 28 percent of the Millennials surveyed responded "yes," double the 11 percent of Baby Boomers.

According to Leslie Hallam, a course director of psychology of advertising at the University of Lancaster, "Every brand that wishes to appeal to Millennials uses digital to reach them. Online is an extension of their nervous systems—the medium in which their individuality dissolves into peer-affiliation."

Hallam tells Munchies that "one of the most important differences between Millennials and Gen X et al is that for the former, it's not, 'What you have' but, 'What you know.'" For Millennials, however, "being seen to have discernment in spirit choice is important social currency—as are the stories you can tell as a result."

For many young people, this social currency is more than worth the extra dough to buy an Insta-friendly high-end brand, which is guaranteed to pull in the likes—and envy—of their peers.

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