Beer Preferences in China: Differences between Generations

Beer in China

China is the largest beer market in the world, with an annual consumption of 46 billion liters. In terms of volume, beer dominates the country’s overall alcohol market, representing 75% of the total amount of alcohol consumption. Imports have also doubled in digits over the last 5 years, mainly dominated by European brewers like Belgium and Germany.

In 2017, China’s beer drinking population accounted for 49% of the total population. Among these consumers, there is a growing trend toward premium brands and imported, more upscale varieties of beer. Wheat and craft beers have become increasingly popular, reflecting China’s shift toward premiumization.

Beer Preferences in China: Differences between Generations

The different generations in China reveal much about what the consumers want and expect on their choices of beer. By studying these consumer groups, companies can tailor their approach to suit the existing demand and preferences .

Gen Z (born between 1996 and 2003) and Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996)

These younger groups are increasingly attracted to premium products and services. More social compared to older generations, they can drink an average of 3-5 pints a week while hanging out with friends. They are also most likely to choose foreign beers over local brands. These beer drinkers tend to pick out the exotic and quirky ones that reflect their personality.

Gen Z and Millennials are the biggest segment of craft beer drinkers in China. Their purchasing decisions are often based on online blogs and in-store tastings. Brand loyalty is not strong among them. To get their attention, companies need to present a distinct product image and message.

Post Great Leap Generation (born between 1960 and 1980)

This group often drink a mixture of local and foreign beers. They are open to exploring different flavors, mostly drinking beer at large parties and after work events. This generation drinks beer as a way to relax, to enjoy and be engaged.

In China, more drinkers in this age group are looking for innovative, higher-quality brews. They can afford expensive, specialty beers due to their rising disposable income. Craft beers are rising in popularity among them, although these are still far from upstaging the local brews.

Post Civil War Generation (born before 1960)

This older group generally drinks domestic beers like Tsingtao and Snow. They typically avoid new flavors in the market and stick to reliable brews and brands that are low-cost, mass-produced, and supermarket-friendly.

This group of beer drinkers prefer simple tasting beverages that are easy to pair with their type of food. Price and quality are important aspects in their beer purchases. Television and print also play a role in their retail decision.

Parting Thoughts

In selling beer in China, how companies appeal to different ages matter. Each generation has varying beer preferences in terms of mouthfeel, alcohol content and flavor. By studying these consumer segments, companies can create effective marketing approaches and promotions that will suit each group.

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