Price Data Methodology

A summary of information about the price and alcohol content of different brands is explained below.

The citation for the entire article is: DiLoreto JT, Siegel M, Hinchey D, et al. Assessment of the Average Price and Ethanol Content of Alcoholic Beverages by Brand-United States, 2011. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2012;36(7):1288–1297. doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2011.01721.x.

Briefly, using online alcohol price data from 15 control states and 164 online alcohol stores, we estimated the average alcohol price and percentage alcohol by volume for 900 brands of alcohol, across 17 different alcoholic beverage types, in the United States in 2011.

In 15 of the 18 control states (Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington), we were able to identify an online price database that specified a uniform price for certain alcohol products sold in the state.

We identified a set of online alcohol stores that either list prices for all of their alcohol brands or have a searchable database with online price information. We located these stores through several mechanisms, including internet searches for popular online alcohol stores, lists of online alcohol stores registered in control states, and internet searches for specific alcohol brands. A total of 136 online alcohol stores were identified.

We first priced out all of the brands sold in each control state using the online price databases. All 15 control states listed pricing for liquor brands (vodka, rum, tequila, grain alcohol, etc.); one control state (Utah) reported pricing for beer; four control states (New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Washington) provided information for table wine; and 14 (all except Ohio) listed pricing for flavored alcoholic beverages.

We next priced out the brands using information posted at online stores. We visited additional stores and continued pricing out all of the brands within an alcoholic beverage type until we had price information for every brand in at least three different stores or had visited all of the identified online stores. We modified this procedure slightly for table wines due to the large number of brands: after examining the prices listed at the four control state sites, we priced out all listed brands at seven additional online stores, for a total of 11 sites; then, when visiting additional online stores, we priced out only those brands for which we did not yet have three price points.

The total number of sites at which we priced out all of the listed brands for each alcoholic beverage category are as follows: beer (52), flavored alcoholic beverages (35), alcoholic energy drinks (49), brandy (21), cognac (16), gin (24), rum (33), tequila (32), bourbon (15), scotch (15), vodka (37), whiskey (21), cordials/liqueurs (36), low-end fortified wine (22), table wine (11), grain alcohol (27), and alcoholic whipped cream (23). Because some stores did not carry particular brands, we do not have a price for every brand at every store.

We collected the pricing information during 2011, using the most recent prices listed for that year. We recorded the posted retail prices found at each store, including sale prices but excluding pricing for kegs, high-volume discounts for multiple bottles of spirits and wine, and one-time close-out offers. We included alcohol excise taxes in the prices but not state or local sales taxes, which are not applied to alcohol exclusively.

At each store, we priced a brand by identifying the cheapest item in the brand category, taking into account the volume size of the beverage and the percentage of alcohol by volume. For example, if a store were offering Corona Extra at $10.00 for a six-pack and $18.00 for a twelve-pack, then we would price out the twelve-pack since it is available at a cheaper price per unit volume. As another example, when pricing out Bacardi Rum, if a store was offering Bacardi Silver Rum at $15.99 for 750 mL and Bacardi Gold Rum at $17.99 for the same volume, then we would price out the Bacardi Silver Rum.

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