Three in Ten Americans Drink Alcohol at Least Once a Week

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – April 6, 2011 – Maybe it’s a glass of wine. For some, it might be a beer or a gin and tonic. But whatever the choice is, three in ten Americans, 21 and older (29%) say they drink alcohol at least once a week, including 5% who drink daily and 10% who drink several times a week. One in five Americans 21 or older (20%) say they drink alcohol at least once a month and 15% drink it several times a year. One in five Americans (22%) say they never drink alcohol. Men are more frequent drinkers than women are as almost two in five men (38%) say they drink at least once a week compared to 21% of women.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,379 adults surveyed online between March 7 and 14, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

    What people are drinking

    Among those who imbibe at least several times a year, beer is the top choice. Almost two-thirds of drinkers (63%) say they personally drink beer when they drink while over half (54%) drink domestic wine. Two in five (41%) drink vodka while one-third (34%) drink rum. Just under three in ten drink tequila (28%) and foreign wine (28%) while one in five (20%) drink various types of whiskies such as Irish or Canadian. Further down the list of preferred alcoholic beverages are champagne (17%), cordials and liqueurs (17%), bourbon (15%), gin (14%), scotch (11%), cognac (8%) and brandy/Armagnac (7%).

    It’s probably not surprising that men and women have different drinking preferences. Men are more likely to drink beer (75% vs. 50%), bourbon (23% vs. 6%) and scotch (17% vs. 4%). Women, however, are more likely to drink domestic wine (63% vs. 45%), champagne (23% vs. 13%) and foreign wine (31% vs. 26%).

    What people drink most often

    While people may drink multiple types of alcohol, when asked which one type they drink most often, beer still comes out on top. One-third of those who drink at least several times a year (34%) say they drink beer most often while just under one-quarter (22%) drink domestic wine most often. One in ten (12%) drink vodka most often while 6% drink rum and 5% drink foreign wine. All other alcohol is below 5%.

    Depending on their age, drinkers have a type of alcohol they drink most often. For Echo Boomers (ages 21-34) and Gen Xers (ages 35-46) beer is the clear beverage of choice. For Echo Boomers beer is over domestic wine 37% to 20% and for Gen Xers it is an even larger difference-41% to 14%. For Baby Boomers (ages 47-65), it is a little more narrow as 33% drink beer most often and 22% drink domestic wine most often. Matures (ages 66 and older) flip the order as domestic wine is the drink of choice over beer, 36% to 22%.

    So What?

     According to many doctors and medical studies, a glass of wine is good for one’s health. And even beyond wine, a drink, as long as it’s in moderation, is something that people shouldn’t be afraid of having–advice Americans seem to have taken to heart. The types of alcohol people drink has held pretty consistent over the past two years with beer, wine and vodka clearly remaining the top three choices. This is probably a testament to alcoholic trends coming and going (tiki drinks being hot one year, not so the following) but certain tried and true choices staying.

     

    TABLE 1

    DRINKING ALCOHOL

    How often do you drink alcohol, including beer or wine?

    Base: Respondents who are age 21 and older

    Total

    Generation

    Gender

    Echo

    Boomers

    (21-34)

    Gen X

    (35-46)

    Baby

    Boomers

    (47-65)

    Matures

    (66+)

    Male

    Female

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK (NET)

    29

    33

    30

    29

    26

    38

    21

    Daily

    5

    3

    3

    5

    11

    7

    3

    Several times a week

    10

    10

    11

    11

    10

    15

    6

    At least once a week

    14

    20

    16

    13

    5

    16

    12

    AT LEAST ONCE A MONTH (NET)

    20

    24

    20

    17

    18

    18

    21

    Several times a month

    9

    12

    8

    8

    9

    9

    10

    At least once a month

    10

    12

    12

    9

    10

    10

    11

    Several times a year

    15

    11

    17

    17

    15

    14

    16

    At least once a year

    6

    3

    7

    5

    8

    4

    7

    Less often than once a year

    8

    7

    8

    9

    6

    6

    10

    I never drink alcohol

    22

    23

    18

    22

    27

    20

    24

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 1A

    DRINKING ALCOHOL – Trend

    How often do you drink alcohol, including beer or wine?

    Base: Respondents who are age 21 and older

    2009

    2011

    %

    %

    AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK (NET)

    29

    29

    Daily

    6

    5

    Several times a week

    12

    10

    At least once a week

    11

    14

    AT LEAST ONCE A MONTH (NET)

    20

    20

    Several times a month

    10

    9

    At least once a month

    10

    10

    Several times a year

    12

    15

    At least once a year

    6

    6

    Less often than once a year

    8

    8

    I never drink alcohol

    25

    22

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 2

    WHAT PEOPLE DRINK

    Which alcoholic beverages do you personally drink either at home or away from home? If you have mixed drinks, such as sours or martinis, please indicate the type of liquor they contain.

    Base: Respondents who are age 21 and older and drink alcohol at least several times a year

    Total 2011

    Total 2009

    Gender

    Male

    Female

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Beer

    63

    67

    75

    50

    Domestic wine

    54

    49

    45

    63

    Vodka

    41

    41

    40

    43

    Rum

    34

    32

    34

    35

    Tequila

    28

    24

    27

    30

    Foreign wine

    28

    29

    26

    31

    Other Whiskey (Canadian, Irish)

    20

    16

    25

    14

    Champagne

    17

    18

    13

    23

    Cordials and liqueurs

    17

    14

    14

    20

    Bourbon

    15

    15

    23

    6

    Gin

    14

    14

    15

    13

    Scotch

    11

    13

    17

    4

    Cognac

    8

    8

    11

    4

    Brandy/Armagnac

    7

    8

    10

    5

    Other

    6

    6

    6

    7

    Note: Multiple responses allowed

     

    TABLE 3

    WHAT PEOPLE DRINK MOST OFTEN

    Although you may drink several types of alcoholic beverages, which one type would you say you drink most often?

    Base: Respondents who are age 21 and older and drink alcohol at least several times a year

    Total

    Generation

    Gender

    Echo

    Boomers

    (21-34)

    Gen X

    (35-46)

    Baby

    Boomers

    (47-65)

    Matures

    (66+)

    Male

    Female

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Beer

    34

    37

    41

    33

    22

    46

    22

    Domestic wine

    22

    20

    14

    22

    36

    15

    29

    Vodka

    12

    17

    11

    10

    8

    10

    14

    Rum

    6

    6

    10

    5

    1

    5

    7

    Foreign wine

    5

    4

    2

    6

    9

    3

    7

    Tequila

    4

    3

    6

    5

     

    3

    5

    Bourbon

    3

    2

    3

    4

    6

    4

    2

    Other Whiskey (Canadian, Irish)

    3

    3

    2

    3

    4

    3

    3

    Gin

    2

    3

    1

    1

    5

    3

    1

    Cordials and liqueurs

    2

    1

    2

    2

    1

     

    3

    Scotch

    2

     

    2

    2

    3

    3

     

    Champagne

    1

     

    1

    1

     

     

    1

    Cognac

    1

    1

    1

    1

     

    Brandy/Armagnac

     

     

     

    1

     

     

    Other

    4

    4

    6

    3

    3

    3

    5

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; signifies less than 1 percent; – signifies no response

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between March 7 to 14, 2011 among 2,379 adults (aged 18 and over), of whom 2,300 were 21 years old or older. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

    J39773

    Q955, 960, 965, 970

    The Harris Poll® #46, April 6, 2011

    By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research, Harris Interactive