Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, represent America’s second-largest generation, behind millennials. Ranging in age from 57 to 75, boomers were once a mainstay of beverage alcohol purchasing in the United States, and they remain considered a key target, especially for premium wine sales. 

A 2021 survey by the Wine Market Council found that, compared to other generations, U.S. consumers aged 60 and older have some of the highest wine consumption rates. Nineteen percent of those in the 60 to 69 age range and 22 percent of those over 70 identified themselves as daily wine drinkers. 

Though boomers account for a smaller share of total sales on Drizly at 11 percent, these consumers out-spend younger generations in some categories, such as white wine and non-alcoholic beer, wine, and spirits. Boomers also spend more per order on the platform.  

“One of the trends we have seen with this age group,” says Liz Paquette, the head of consumer insights at Drizly, “is that they typically spend less per product, but more per order, than other generations.”

To appeal to baby boomers, here is what brands and retailers should know about their beverage preferences and buying habits.

Baby Boomers’ Top BevAlc Categories

Boomers’ share of total sales by top level category on Drizly is currently 47 percent liquor, 41 percent wine, and 11 percent beer. Likewise, this generation over-indexes on spirits and wine compared to other age groups and slightly under-indexes on beer. 

According to NielsenIQ data for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 4, 2021, wine had the highest penetration among consumers aged 55 and older, with 49 percent of the population purchasing within the category. Beer saw the next-highest penetration with boomers at 47 percent, followed by spirits with 37 percent. Purchasing for wine and spirits saw slight increases over the previous year, while beer penetration remained flat.

Vodka and Liqueurs Are Boomers’ Spirits of Choice

When it comes to spirits, says retailer Gary Fisch, the founder and CEO at New Jersey-based Gary’s Wine and Marketplace, baby boomers are drinking less and trading up. 

“I know a lot of guys that, 20 years ago, drank Dewars if they drank Scotch,” he says. “Then it became Johnny Walker Black and then it became single malt or Johnny Blue.”

Within the spirits category on Drizly, baby boomers buy a greater share of vodka compared to other generations, holding 29 percent of sales compared to 21 percent for other age groups. This generation under-indexes on tequila and ready-to-drink cocktails, which are both strong performers among younger generations. 

Boomers also over-index on liqueurs, cordials, and schnapps, accounting for seven percent of share. Relative to other generations, these consumers purchase more cream liqueur, citrus/triple sec liqueur, coffee liqueur, and nut/amaretto liqueur. 

Drizly’s Top-Selling Vodka SKUs Among Baby Boomers

  1. Tito’s Handmade Vodka
  2. Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka
  3. Grey Goose Vodka
  4. Absolut Vodka
  5. Ketel One Vodka
  6. Svedka Vodka
  7. SKYY Vodka
  8. Pinnacle Original Vodka
  9. Belvedere Vodka
  10. Platinum 7X Vodka

Among the top-selling vodka SKUs, boomers buy a greater share relative to other generations of Smirnoff No. 21, Absolut, and Pinnacle Original. 

Drizly’s Top-Selling Liqueurs, Cordials, and Schnapps SKUs Among Boomers

  1. Baileys Original Irish Cream Liqueur
  2. Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge Orange Liqueur
  3. Kahlua
  4. Cointreau
  5. Disaronno Originale Amaretto
  6. Jägermeister
  7. Campari
  8. Aperol
  9. RumChata
  10. Carolans Irish Cream

Within the top-selling SKUs for the liqueurs, cordials, and schnapps category, boomers over-index on Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge Orange Liqueur — a staple for mixing margaritas — as well as the cream liqueurs RumChata and Carolans Irish Cream. Boomers also purchase more Kahlua, Disaronno Originale Amaretto, and Jägermeister than other generations. 

This age group also slightly over-indexes on rum, holding five percent of share within the liquor category. The same is true for gin, and, to a lesser extent, brandy.

Boomers Are Seeking Out White Wine

As the first U.S. generation to embrace wine in the late 1970s and early ’80s, baby boomers purchase more wine overall than younger generations. 

Fisch credits critics’ scores and the rise of steakhouses across the country for shaping boomers’ wine preferences. “That’s when the big Napa Cabernets and Bordeaux wines kicked into overdrive,” he says. 

Those who have retired and moved to states with sunny climates are now buying lighter-style wines for daily consumption. “They’re buying Pinot Noir, Burgundy, wines from Spain and Portugal,” says Fisch, “wines that represent more value.”

On Drizly, white wine outperforms with baby boomers relative to other age groups, holding 43 percent share compared to just 26 percent average share for other generations. 

Within the white wine category, baby boomers over-index on Chardonnay (47 percent share versus 27 percent) and Pinot Grigio (23 percent share versus 20 percent). Chardonnay accounts for five out of 10 of this generation’s top-selling white wines, which suggests a preference for traditional white varieties.

Drizly’s Top-Selling White Wine SKUs Among Baby Boomers

  1. Cavit Pinot Grigio
  2. Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 
  3. Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay
  4. Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Chardonnay 
  5. Josh Cellars Chardonnay
  6. Barefoot Pinot Grigio
  7. Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio DOC
  8. Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc
  9. La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
  10. Yellow Tail Chardonnay

Among the top-selling white wine SKUs, baby boomers buy a greater share than other generations of Cavit Pinot Grigio, Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay, Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Chardonnay, Josh Cellars Chardonnay, Barefoot Pinot Grigio, La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, and Yellow Tail Chardonnay.

When boomers opt for beer, they tend to steer away from heavier styles. This age group over-indexes on light lager and American-style lager.

Boomers Spend More Per Order

On the Drizly platform, baby boomers spend an average of eight percent less per unit than other generations. Broken down by category, this age group spends 15 percent less per unit on wine, nine percent less on liquor, and seven percent less on beer.

“However, in the past 12 months,” notes Paquette, “the average order value for baby boomers was three percent higher than other generations at nearly $69 per order.”

Boomers Like No- and Low-Alcohol Beverages

Relative to younger groups, this generation slightly over-indexes on non-alcoholic beer, wine, and spirits. Boomers’ share of sales is 0.25 percent compared to 0.23 percent for other generations.