While young adults will always be an important target group, investment in attracting female and older consumers will create new drinking occasions and new opportunities. Both old and young consumers are becoming more selective - novelty, sophistication and female-friendly settings are now highly in demand.

One of the most significant changes in European drinking patterns in recent years has been the increase in women's drinking. Young British women, aged between 18 and 24, are by far the largest consumers of alcoholic drinks in Europe. Annual per capita consumption reached 203 liters in 2002 in the UK, compared to only 59 liters amongst young Italians. This is set to increase to 242 liters by 2007.

Spain, however, shows the biggest increase with consumption of alcoholic drinks increasing by almost 60% between 2002 and 2007, to an annual 115 liters per young adult woman. This is partly because Spain is a less mature market and capable of rapid growth as young adult women become economically independent and societal attitudes to women drinking become less censorious.

One of the clearest results of the increased female drinking has been the change in the on-trade environment. Traditional beer-focused pubs in the UK and Germany have given way to bars such as All Bar One or Mediterranean style cafes which offer a more comfortable, open, well-lit, friendly environment. One of the key design features of the All Bar One chain is that the bar's frontage should be mainly glass, allowing prospective female customers to check the venue out before entering. This offers security and comfort, and also helps to develop trust.

Women's demand for more access to the on-trade has also given rise to new drinks, and changed the shape of the market. The obvious example is the rise in FABs, which having initially been aimed at young consumers were quickly refined to appeal to women particularly. Wine, in particular, is popular with young women as it is perceived as being low in calories and sophisticated.

Women's drinking habits have also led the rise of food occasions. Most noticeable is the growth of gastro-pubs, cafes and other food venues in Germany, the UK and the Netherlands, which is partly due to the women's desire to avoid getting drunk too quickly.