The American Wine Consumer in 2012: A Summary

The following is a summary of Patty Held's 2012 EWE presentation on the distinction between two groups of Millennials and how wineries can market to their differences.
The American Wine Consumer in 2012: A Summary - Articles


The Millennial Generation Splits in Two

Based on the 2012 Wine Market Council Report, two differentiating groups were identified within the Millennial generation (born approximately between the years 1984 - 2004, depending on sources), indicating that this generation was not homogeneous in their wine purchasing and drinking habits.

It is believed that the main reason for this divide in the generation was due to the drastic change in the American economy in 2008-2009. In 2003 the Council initially isolated how impact full this generation was as core wine drinkers, defined as those that drink wine at least once a week to daily. Those that were in college and of legal drinking age before the economic crisis, have been generally termed as "Older Millennials."

However, the external economic forces have impacted the habits of the younger, "currently-leaving-college" portion of the Millennial generation, commonly known as "Younger Millennials." New college graduates are now experiencing lower entry salaries than their older counterparts. It was reminded that, as of the time of this presentation, there was still a small section of the Millennial generation that was not yet of legal drinking age yet. This portion of the generation was not considered in the Wine Market Council's report.

The younger Millennials, unlike their older counterparts, appear to be returning to the habit of primarily drinking wine only during special occasions. Older Millennials appear to be more frequent wine buyers, and especially more exploratory with imported wine purchases.

Why is the Millennial Generation Important to Today's Wineries

Many people wonder why it is important to focus on the Millennial generation? The primary reason pertains to their overall size. Just like the Baby Boomers (born between 1946 to 1964, depending on sources) contributed about 77 million people to the population, the Millennials are currently 70 million strong. These numbers offer huge potential for wine purchases based on volume. However, the way they buy and evaluate products is much, much different than their Baby Boomer parents and their Generation X (born between 1965 to 1984, depending on sources) cousins. However, Millennials are now unique in that their purchasing habits have somewhat divided.

Who Is Buying "High End" Wines?

According to this report "high end purchasers," or those that buy $20+ wines, are majority male, rather than female.

Additionally, it is the Baby Boomer generation that is most brand loyal. In contrast, Older Millennials and "high end purchasers" are more influenced by wine reviews and label design with less brand loyalty than their Boomer parents. It was revealed from this marketing report that Older Millennials are most influenced by "fun and contemporary looking" labels, which may be due to the fact that this generation was introduced to the wine market when critter labels, like Yellow Tail, were popular.

Winery Websites and Millennials

Another big topic discussed was the use and relevance of winery websites. Older Millennials (52%) show much greater involvement in websites than their younger halves. "High end purchasers" (60%) follow this same pattern, evaluating wineries based on the website.

However, it was noted that it is difficult to find good winery websites. Without a good website format, it is probable that wineries are losing business. This is especially true if these market segments are visiting the winery website prior to deciding on whether or not to visit the winery. This is a serious reality of wineries losing potential business, especially due to the fact that the markets going to websites for wine or winery information make up about half of the core wine drinkers in the U.S.

These consumers are savvy enough to tell if a winery's website is professionally or unprofessionally created. The top 5 things that wineries should ensure are on their website pages include:

  1. Reputable Content (at the remarkable level including photos, images, scrolling, video, recipes)
  2. Blogs about your business
  3. Calls to action ("buy now" or "click here" call outs that sends viewers to a landing page and collects data)
  4. The winery's address and phone number on the home page
  5. Having a mobile friendly website with social sharing buttons (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.).

Patty Held has previously reviewed website improvement for wineries in greater detail.

For more information on current wine marketing segments and better ways to enhance marketing for a winery, it is recommended that you attend A License to Steal Conference. It is currently considered the best marketing conference in the country, not just for the wine industry.