Low-carb beer drinkers not in it for their waistlines

Low-carb beer drinkers not in it for their waistlines

Back in June 2006, when low-carb beer was still a relatively new addition to the beverage market, 1.6% of Australian adults (or 219,000 people) were drinking it in any given four-week period. By September 2011, when the low-carb craze was at its peak, almost 11% of the adult population (or 1,853,000 people) were drinking it in an average four weeks. The trend has since stabilised, with the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research revealing that low-carb beer is now consumed by 8.5% of Aussies 18+ (some 1,540,000 people).

Over the same time period, the total proportion of Australians drinking beer has steadily declined from 42.3% to 36.5%. Or, to look at it another way, low-carb beer consumers now comprise almost one quarter of Aussies drinking beer in an average four weeks (well up on June 2006, when they accounted for just 3% of the country’s total beer drinkers).

Beer drinking trends in AustraliaLow carb beer graph

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), June 2006 – March 2015 (n=192,839). Base: Australians 18+ (NB: Low carb beers measured: Carlton Dry, Carlton Dry Fusion, Carlton Natural, Cascade Pure, Pure Blonde, Pure Blonde Naked, Pure Blonde White, Miller Chill, Tooheys New White Stag, Hahn Super Dry, Hahn Super Dry 3.5, XXXX Summer Bright Lager, Boags Classic Blonde, Coopers Clear, Maxx Blonde and Platinum Blonde.)

The country’s leading low-carb beer drinkers are Western Australians (11% of whom drink it in an average four weeks), closely followed by Queenslanders (10%). Tasmanians (6%) are least likely to drink low carb beer, even though their local breweries Cascade and Boags both offer low-carb variants.

Low-carb beer drinkers: what diet?

Although it might be tempting to think of low-carb beer drinkers as calorie-conscious women, or older men battling middle-aged spread, the data paints a somewhat different picture. Only one quarter of low-carb beer drinkers are women (about average for beer drinking in general), and men aged under 35 years easily outnumber those aged 50+ (33% vs 21% of total low-carb beer drinkers respectively).

What’s more, low-carb beer drinkers are actually less concerned about their waistline than the average Aussie. For example, they are:

  • 25% less likely to agree that “A low fat diet is a way of life for me”           
  • 18% less likely to agree that “I always think about the number of calories in the food I’m eating
  • 11% less likely to agree that “I restrict how much I eat of fattening food”
  • 10% less likely to agree that “I would like to be able to lose weight”

Angela Smith, Group Account Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Since that distant day more than a decade ago when Australia’s first low-carb beer, Pure Blonde, hit the shelves, the range of low-carb beers on the market has exploded. Until recent months, Pure Blonde was able to maintain top spot in this increasingly crowded field, but was overtaken by close rival Carlton Dry in December 2014.

“Although one might expect low-carb beers to appeal to dieters and calorie-counters, the people drinking it are less concerned than the average Australian with such issues — suggesting that the appeal of these beers does not lie with their dietary perks. In fact, men aged between 18 and 24 (not generally a weight-conscious bunch) are the most likely age group of either gender to drink low-carb beer, with 20% consuming it in an average four weeks.

“As men in this age range are less likely than men of any other age to drink beer in general, this is quite noteworthy — and category leader Carlton Dry has clearly recognised the opportunity it presents, aiming their playful ‘Hello Beer’ advertising campaign squarely at this demographic.”

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