Recent data from North American market research provider, Ipsos, has thrown an interesting shift in who’s enjoying cognac in the U.S.

Historically it’s been black drinkers who’ve accounted for a large proportion of purchasers. But recently, and this is probably due to the concerted push of advertising by the cognac houses, white consumers are starting to increase their consumption of the spirit.

In addition, the occasions when and where people are drinking cognac are shifting. From the traditional digestif through to drinking it casually at home, it appears that cognac is now becoming not just a drink for a special occasion, but one that many now include in their regular drinks cabinet.

So let’s take a look at just how this breaks down.

Neat is still king

Despite the emerging trend of cognac cocktails, around 54% of cognac consumption is enjoyed neat or on the rocks. This percentage has remained approximately the same over the last few years.

The Ethnic Divide: Cognac in the U.S.

However, when folks do choose to enjoy cognac with a mixer, cola is still the most popular choice, and accounts for around 12% of cognac consumption. But this has dropped from a massive 24% only 2 years ago. Now people are enjoying cognac with alternative mixers, such as ginger ale.

Cognac, TV dinners, and special occasions

A big change is the drop in fashion of drinking cognac when watching TV. Figures in the year September 2013 – August 2014 numbered 37%. But now this figure has dropped to 21%. This is especially relevant when you look at who drinks cognac when watching sport, with a drop from 18% to 9%.

But a whole lot of you are turning to cognac as your preferred tipple when relaxing after work. The figure has jumped over the last couple of years from 13% to a much larger 23%. And when it comes to choosing a drink at special occasions, this now accounts for 27% of consumption (up from 22%).

Cognac had somewhat fallen from fashion as an after dinner drink, but it now appears the trend is reversing. The figure of 9% two years ago has risen to 20% today.

At home? Or away?

You might think that the most popular place to enjoy a cognac would be in a restaurant. But this only accounts for 9% of consumption in this category. Upscale lounges, despite the resurgence of ‘cognac lounges’, only account for 5%.

17% of consumption takes place in the home (or in someone else’s home) – and this is a high amount (most spirits only account for around 10% here). But the most popular place to enjoy a cognac is in bars and pubs, and accounts for 21%.

So who are the cognac drinkers in the U.S?

Well, cognac still remains a ‘man’s’ drink, with 78% of all cognac (73% of monthly drinkers) being served to guys. And despite the efforts of the cognac brands to attract more female drinkers, this trend has been growing over recent years.

Drinkers in the 30-49 years age range are the largest proportion of cognac fans, accounting for 57% of all cognac sole in the U.S. And while black drinkers still drive the market (55%), white drinkers are on the increase, with their share up from 26% to 40% in three years.

It appears that for black drinkers, cognac is much more of a routine drink to enjoy when watching TV, relaxing after work, or cheering on your favorite sports team. White drinkers, by comparison, are more likely to drink cognac on special occasions or at meal times.

36% of cognac sales go to households that have an average yearly income of $40,000 to $70,000 (this is higher than the 26% for total spirits).

Cognac is still an also-ran…

While these figures might look great, cognac still lags behind its competitors in the drink stakes. For regular drinkers, cognac accounts for around 11% of monthly consumption, as opposed to wine at 17% and beer at 35%. This has not changed much over the past few years.


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The Ethnic Divide: Cognac in the U.S.

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Jacki has been with Cognac Expert from virtually the beginning. She's the senior editor of the blog, and has spent much of her life living in rural France. Today she's based back in the UK, where she splits her working life between writing for Cognac Expert and working as a Paramedic at a large regional hospital.

1 Comment

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    No stats on Asian drinkers in North America? All Cognac drinkers I know are Asian.

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