By Andrew Starke
According to the Roy Morgan Alcohol MAP, consumption of alcohol in the adult population has been declining steadily for the past five years, with the RTD tax in particular having a big impact on younger consumers.
Overall, the proportion of people who drink beer, wine or RTDs have all fallen; however the consumption of spirits has increased.
In the 12 months to June 2006, 73.6 percent of adult Australians had consumed some form of alcohol in a four week period. By April 2010, this had dropped to 71.5 percent.
This decline is most noticeable in wine (49.1 percent to 45.6 percent) and beer (42.4 percent to 41.1 percent) as well as RTDs (16 percent to 14 percent).
However, there has been an increase in the proportion of adult Australians consuming spirits (25.4 percent to 27 percent) particularly since the RTD tax change in 2008.
There has also been an increase in other alcohol types that have collectively gone from 13.2 percent to 14.1 percent, largely on the back of the success enjoyed by the cider category.
Research into the different types of alcohol favoured by Australians aged 18-34 years over the same time period revealed a significant decline (30.8 percent to 25.8 percent) in RTD consumption.
Consumption of spirits increased for this category but the strong increase was for other alcohol types, which recoded an increase from 16.2 percent to 20.3 percent.
“The recent release of ABS data on alcohol consumption has brought the debate on the RTD taxes back into the public arena,” said Roy Morgan Research account director, Trish Kelliher.
“However this survey points to an increase in other alcohol types since the introduction of the tax, particularly by the 18-34 year olds,” she said.
The Roy Morgan research shows that, since the change in the RTD tax, the decline in RTD consumption and the rise in spirits and other alcohol types has occurred mainly in those aged under 35.
“This increase in spirits and other alcohol types, such as cider and liqueurs, show that consumers are displaying a greater propensity for exploration in the alcohol market,” said Kelliher.
“Their repertoires are broadening as they explore and embrace a greater number of alcohol types.”
Another aspect of the trend for switching from RTDs to spirits is the strength of the brands in these categories.
“When RTD prices rose, consumers generally switched to the same brands but in the free-pour spirits format,” she said. “This has occurred across all age groups, with under 35 year olds in particular switching from RTDs to spirits.”