We've all seen that masterfully crafted whiskey photo on Instagram. Under the perfect lighting, a highball glass is filled with a generous pour of brown liquor and a glistening cube of ice, while a uniquely shaped, hard-to-find bottle stands slightly blurred in the background. But how much of that drink was made for its rich flavor and smooth finish, and how much was just for the 'gram? For many millennials, it appears the bragging rights on social media are now worth the extravagant price of purchasing high-end booze.
Last week, research groups Evolve Media and Hava Media Group published a new study titled Behind the Bottle: An Exploration of Trends in the Spirits Category. Having surveyed and interviewed 1,605 adults, the report found that 42 percent of people over 21 felt that digital media was “an influential touchpoint to get ideas and recommendations of what spirits to buy." The number of adults who took advice from traditional media outlets, like television and newspaper ads, is almost half that much at 24 percent.
While in 2016 nearly ever American is finding consumer information online, many millennials—or adults between the ages of 21 and 35—seem to be buying top shelf booze for the primary purpose of showing off on social media. When prompted to respond to the statement “I sometimes order a premium brand just to impress my peers,” 28 percent of millennials answered “Yes”—more than double the 11 percent of Baby Boomers who responded the same.
"According to the study, knowledge of spirits is becoming social currency among millennials and they will order name brands to impress their peers," Brian Fitzgerald, the president and co-founder of Evolve Media, said in the report. "We also found that what brand someone decides to buy depends strongly on what they’re doing, who they’re with and where they’re drinking.”
But to really get to the bottom of these stats, Munchies talked to Leslie Hallam, a course director of psychology of advertising at the University of Lancaster. Hallam claims the data is indicative of a larger social trend among young Americans, proving just how important sharing (and really bragging) is to millennials.
"One of the most important differences between millennials and Gen X et al is that for the former, it’s not, ‘What you have’ but, ‘What you know,’" she says. "Being seen to have discernment in spirit choice is important social currency—as are the stories you can tell as a result. And these get told online, while they’re happening. The drinks you have at the beach bar in Ibiza are a part of the story, and the brands that are a part of them are transmitted to friends anywhere in the world.”
So next time you find yourself posting a photo of a Hendricks martini with a cucumber twist on Facebook, ask yourself, are you doing it because you love a good gin, or because you want your friends to be jealous?