Beverages are big business. From fruit smoothies to mochaccinos, Americans seem to be consuming more liquids than ever before. So naturally, we wanted to know: Who's drinking what? Why? And what would it take to make them try something new?
According to an exclusive online survey for American Demographics, conducted by Digital Marketing Services, a division of America Online, 90 percent of Americans say they drink soda at least once a week - making it the most popular beverage. But more than half of us pour milk (75 percent), juice (71 percent), bottled or canned water (67 percent), iced coffee or tea (57 percent), and hot coffee or tea (57 percent) down our gullets on a weekly basis as well. Alcoholic potions, fruit beverages - such as Snapple and Fruitopia - sports drinks, and frozen items are each consumed by less than half of the general public during a seven-day period.
In general, consumption rates of many beverages decrease with age. For instance, each generation drinks more milk, juice, fruit, sports, and frozen beverages than the generation that preceded it. However, when it comes to hot coffee or tea, those aged 50 and older drink more than twice as much as 18- to 24-year-olds (84 percent versus 38 percent).
There's also an intriguing relationship between how much we drink and how educated we are. Seventy-five percent of adults who hold a graduate degree have thrown back a can or a bottle of water in the past week, compared with 62 percent of those with a high school education or less. The same trend holds true for iced coffee or tea and alcohol.
When it comes to households with children, we see moms and dads setting a good example for their kids by drinking milk (79 percent drink at least one glass of moo juice in a week compared with 73 percent of those living sans kids). But wait, they also drink soda and hot coffee or tea at levels significantly higher than do those without ankle-biters around the house. Can somebody say caffeine fix?
That leads us to the question, why do we down the drinks we do? Routine is the driving factor behind most beverage consumption. A majority of drinkers of hot coffee or tea (79 percent), iced coffee or tea (47 percent), milk (45 percent), soda (45 percent), water (37 percent), and juice (35 percent) say they mostly consume the indicated beverage because it's part of their routine. But if you see someone guzzling a sports or fruit drink, it is most likely because they're parched. Sixty-one percent of sports beverage drinkers and 45 percent of fruit beverage drinkers say they wet their whistles primarily due to thirst.
When it comes to social drinking, alcohol is by far the beverage of choice. Forty-seven percent of respondents who drink alcohol say the prime reason they share a round with their buddies is because they "enjoy the social aspect of consuming it with others." Been extra good? Treat yourself to something frosty. Forty-seven percent of frozen or blended beverage drinkers say they favor them when they want to treat themselves to something special.
So even if you know what type of beverage you're in the mood for, there are so many choices available, it's enough to make your head spin. What factors are most likely to seduce us into trying a new drink? Forty-eight percent of respondents say they would be most likely to try a new drink if it were a flavor they liked. Fair enough, but that may only slightly limit your selection. What else? A friend's recommendation is the second most popular reason to try something new (21 percent), and more women (23 percent) take the advice from their buddies than do men (18 percent). Only 3 percent of Americans are willing to try something because "I liked the commercial," which may lead marketers to ask: "Is the glass half full or is it half empty?"