There are more of them and they have more money than ever before. Yet the growing importance of consumers in the so-called Midlifer market is being dangerously ignored by alcoholic drinks makers, says a new report.
Adults aged between 25 and 44, also known as Midlifers, account for 42 per cent of Europe's $226bn (€186.6bn) alcoholic drinks market.
They have more money than spritely 18-24 year-olds and spend more than over 45s, yet almost two thirds of them say the majority of drinks industry advertising ignores them in favour of young adults, says a new report by Datamonitor.
Author Matt Adams said there were now significant opportunities for firms to increase earnings from the European Midlifer market, who prefer quality over quantity and are prepared to pay premium prices to get it.
Changes in society are a leading factor. Adams said the fact that more people were staying single for longer meant that Midlifers were going out and spending more money on the on-trade.
Adams believes drinks manufacturers now need to change their view of Midlifers as stable and resistant to change.
"People are more open to new products now, they want new experiences," he said, adding that this trend had been driven by budget air travel and the rise of food and drink in the mass media.
Adams singled out the UK as one of the European markets with high Midlifer potential. "The UK has one of the highest leading proportions of people saying yes, I have been trying new products and services."
The report says UK Midlifers make up 44.8 per cent of the national drinks market in value terms. This compares to 46.5 per cent in the Netherlands, 42.9 per cent in Spain and around 41 per cent in Germany, Italy and Sweden, with France on 39.8 per cent.
In terms of products, Midlifers are especially interested in top quality products perceived as slightly healthier, such as those made more naturally or that have lower calorie contents.
Adams said wine makers in California were already tapping this trend by producing lower calorie white wines from grapes that have been hand-picked early in the season.
In Germany, a move away from beer has led world number one drinks firm Diageo to begin targeting high quality spirits and wine at Midlifers in their early 40s.
Pub smoking bans could also be winners with Midlifers, with 60 per cent telling Datamonitor they were concerned by smoking in pubs. This news is encouraging for the drinks industry, which Adams believes will not suffer as much as it fears from a smoking ban in the long-term.
Ireland already has a ban in place, while Scotland is set to introduce one next year and a UK-wide ban has been proposed by the government to begin by the end of 2008.