Beer, Wine Problems May Be Deeper Than Just Attracting Young Consumers

Have you noticed?  Not only is beer consumption in the U.S. down, but so is wine consumption.  And for wine, it's just not in the U.S. but globally.  Some experts are talking about an "ocean of unsold wine" even before the 2023 harvest are in.

The problem: The industry is doing a poor job of appealing to young consumers, we"re told, who are more attracted to hard seltzers, etc., than traditional wine and beer.  Plus, young people are consuming large amounts of nonalcoholic wines.  

Now there's concern that Ozempic, Wegovy and other new drugs for treating diabetes may change the bev/al  marketing approach forever.  That's because these new drugs act on the brain to reduce hunger and make a person feel full sooner.  I know a couple of people recently diagnosed with diabetes who were put on Ozempic.  Within a couple of weeks, they had lost 25 pounds or more.  And they didn't feel hungry.

That's because the new drugs target a part of the brain that determines how much fat it wants the body to carry. That also happens to be the part that affects alcohol consumption.

What if, by taking Ozempic and losing weight, one also loses interest in alcohol?  That's one of Ozempic's side effects – the patient loses the desire to drink alcohol. That's a problem, especially for bev/al marketers who have planted their flag in the premiumization concept.  

In August, The New York Times ran a story on the New York neighborhoods where Ozempic, Wegovy and similar drugs are most consumed.  Guess what the Times found:  The new class of medications used for diabetes and weight loss are concentrated in the city’s wealthier, whiter and healthier neighborhoods. The East Side of Manhattan also happens where Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro sales are the highest.

I have a bit of personal experience, not with Ozempic, Wegovy or Mounjaro, but with conTrave, which my doctor prescribed for obesity.  Contrave isn't as powerful in weight loss are Ozempic, etc., and it is taken orally, not by injection.  

I used to drink two or three glasses of wine or spirits a day.  Since starting conTrave, I find myself drinking only one glass.  If I have a second glass, most of it is dumped down the drain several hours later.

In my experience on conTrave, I have not lost the desire to drink at all.  But I have lost the desire to have a second drink, much less a third.

Unlike many on Ozempic, I didn't lose weight quickly, and I have not found a complete loss of interest in a glass of wine or spirits.  Nor, unlike people on Ozempic, have I felt dizzy or intoxicated when I've had a drink.

Scientists don't have a full explanation for the less-use-of-alcohol effect of Ozempic, Wedgovy or Monjauro, nor for the somewhat lesser effect on conTrave on alcohol consumption. But they are starting to study the question.

Bev/al marketers, we think, would be well advised to study the question also, and to model what would happen to sales if use of the chemicals  beca me much more widespread than it is today. Meanwhile, marketers would be well advised to develop positive messages around low or no-alcohol verzions of their products .

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