Age is the key variable in overall consumer attitude towards, and consumption of, alcohol. Young adults go through a learning curve in terms of their experience of alcohol, with their attitudes towards alcohol shaped by these experiences, as well as peer influence and consumer advertising. The environment in which they drink will also heavily influence attitudes towards alcohol Thus for young adults, alcohol will generally be associated with social out-of-home drinking in pubs or clubs.

Also, image considerations tend to be exaggerated among younger consumers, as fashion and peer pressure influence both attitudes and behaviour to a large extent. By contrast, among the family building age groups, drinking is generally a more home centred leisure activity, and image and packaging considerations play a much lesser role in the purchase process. Trends in the number of 18-34s are particularly important to the on-trade retail drinks industry, which heavily depends on the custom of these key consumers.

The total numbers of 18-24s are set to rise by 7. 7% between now and 2006, which bodes well for the industry. This age group generally has higher disposable income for leisure spend, since many are often still living in the parental home and are yet thinking about setting up their own home. Furthermore this age group tend to be driven by their leisure activities, which generally centre on pubs and clubs. Numbers of 35-44s have a key bearing on off-trade sales, especially of wine and beer.

Having increased by nearly 14% over the period 1996-2001, growth in their numbers between 2001 and 2006 is set to slow to a more modest, but still discernible, 4. 7%. Alcoholic beverages are generally discretionary purchases that can be subject to cutbacks in a leaner economic climate. Between 2001 and 2006, is expected to have risen by some 36%, as is consumer expenditure. The general macroeconomic picture is thus favourable in terms of these key two key barometers of consumer confidence, although it should be noted that alcoholic beverages are in competition with other leisure sectors for share of consumer spend.

Research shows that almost three quarters of people that have bought a PPS in the last 12 months consumed Bacardi Breezer which shows the products dominance in the FABs category. It should be remembered, however, that Bacardi Breezer has been on the market since 1995, while Smirnoff Ice was launched some time later, in 1999. Furthermore, there are six variants of Bacardi Breezer and only two of Smirnoff Ice, which, it might be argued, increases the formers exposure among consumers. Data regarding the consumption of PPSs by sex should be treated with some caution.

Smirnoff Ice is a single flavour product, targeted more at men than women, while Bacardi Breezer is a range, some of which are male orientated (eg Cranberry) and some not. Hooch is evenly split between males and females. Unlike many PPSs, an interesting finding with regard to Bacardi Breezer is that popularity among PPS drinkers is less limited to 18-34s that either Smirnoff Ice or Vodka Hooch. Indeed, popularity peaks among 45-64 before declining among over 64s. The three brands are consumed in roughly equal measure across the socio-economic groups.

Given that one in five respondents feel that PPSs are expensive for what they are, it is clear that such products are not exclusive to any one consumer group and that brand owners have succeeded in extending the appeal of such products to consumers from all walks of life. Geographically, usage of the brand is fairly consistent with a slightly lesser penetration in the North West for both Bacardi Breezer and Smirnoff Ice. Coversely, penetration of both these brands is highest in Scotland. It is clear that drinkers of Smirnoff Ice are likely top be C1C2s, living in Greater London and Anglia/Midlands, and in the pre-family or family lifestages.

Working women are particularly likely to be drinkers. (Attitudes Towards Drinking Mar 2002) Promotion of stylish imagery surrounding alcoholic drinks brands remains paramount. Above-the-line expenditure has been growing in the FABs category, but it is becoming clear that manufacturers are seeking alternative ways in which to invest marketing budgets other than television. Consumption of FABs generally declines steadily with age – particularly after the age of 34 – although the category is beginning to attract a wider audience.

A report on this matter was taken up by Mintel and shows that brands such as Bacardi Breezer are popular with consumers right up to the age of 64. It is clear that there is scope to push the category further among consumers of all ages and background. Although women continue to consume more FABs than do men, the difference in consumption levels by gender is narrowing. Furthermore, brand owners will be heartened by the finding that FABs are viewed as ideal for parties. Potential exists, it would seem, to push sales further via the off-trade.