This February I wrote a piece that looked at wine purchases in 2012 by age group. Last week Gallup came out with some new numbers on U.S. wine consumption. As is often the case with surveys, any conclusions depend on which numbers you choose to highlight.
For the most part the trend is very positive. US News and World Report led with the fact that more Americans prefer wine over beer than ever before, while the Terroirist blog focused on the move to wine by demographic group. The biggest gains have been with non-whites, men and the under 30 years old demographics. Here’s the full survey off Gallup’s site.
All good news for anyone who enjoys wine. After reviewing the data however, I wonder whether these numbers are a cautionary tale for the premium wine market in the future, defined here as $40 per bottle and up.
Let’s go back to the State of the Wine Industry 2013 report I looked at in February. It showed that the big majority of $40 and up purchases are made by Matures (65 and older), and Boomers (47-64). Millennials (21-34) account for less than 10 percent of such purchases. And even though wine had become more popular among 18 – 29 year olds according to Gallup over the past 20 years, they still favor beer 41 percent to 24 percent.
This could spell trouble down the road for the premium wine market. Millennials aren’t spending big money on wine, and overall they still prefer beer. Finally, according to Gallup the percentage of Boomers (defined by Gallup as 30 – 49 years of age) who prefer wine over beer actually decreased over the past 20 years, from 31 percent to 29 percent. Among this demographic hard liquor was the bigger gainer, increasing 7 percent.
Matures obviously will age out of the market eventually, replaced by Boomers. If Boomers really are moving away from wine, even in relatively small numbers, that could spell trouble for high end wine producers. Trouble is a relative term here since the overall market continues to grow, but produces may need to rethink their marketing strategies.
As I’ve stated previously on this site, there is more land under quality wine cultivation than at any time in human history. You shouldn’t need to spend a lot of money for a good wine experience today. These numbers could be telling us that the future belongs to the value conscious consumer. Let’s all raise a glass to that thought!