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The Future of Wine is Now

The Future of Wine is Now
 

Wine Portfolio as a TV series, web community and social media destination likes to focus on the new generation of wine lovers. These are the so-called Millennials or Generation Y. They’re the sons and daughters of the baby boomers; they’re between 25 and 35 years old, affluent, socially aware and fortunately for us they consume media and wine more voraciously than their parents.

We decided to dedicate an entire episode to this new breed of wine drinker because they are the future. I know that sounds obvious but when you start to look at the research and start to speak to this group, you quickly realize that they will forever change the wine industry. In fact, they already are. And that’s what is so exciting about the world of wine. Wine is an ever changing, ever evolving lifestyle and every new lover, every new weekend purchaser votes with their pocketbook to direct its’ future.

So how about a little context as to why and how the Millennials are making an impact. First off the Millennials are the largest consumer group in US history, there are approximately 76 million of them with annual incomes totaling $211 billion; they spend approximately $172 billion per year and save $39 billion (and not just by living in their parent’s basements).  According to one major industry study, this demographic is “quickly surpassing its parent’s as consumers, as they have grown up in a media-saturated, brand-conscious world, and so are happy to keep advertisers on their toes.”

This fast growing group loves wine. Based on a Wine Markets Council Study, 66% of Millenials drink wine regularly vs just 26% of the US population. Of the 66% who drink wine, 48% preferred red, 18% preferred white, and 34% liked both red and white. When asked why they liked red wine, the most common responses were because it was fruity, smooth, and went well with food. The most preferred red wines are Merlot and Zinfandel. Clearly New World wines win out.

The Millennials who preferred white wines also went for fruity wines, but also cited an appreciation for sweeter white wine. Not surprisingly Chardonnay is their most favorite although other white varietals such as Pinot Grigio and Gewürztraminer were also listed. And of course everyone loved Champagne (OK that’s just me adding my bias to the mix). Again, new world wines were far more preferred than old world classics.

So for those of us who are a part of the wine world, how will the Millennials change our industry? Well it’s important to know what’s important to them. And then you can see how the industry will adapt to their needs.

5 Traits that define the Millennials:

  • They are Internet-savvy having grown up with the net so social media plays a large role in how they interact
  • They prize diversity as they come from a globalized, multicultural world where South Africa or Chile don’t seem foreign or exotic
  • They’re positive and practical so price point is important, as is honesty in marketing (note to winemakers, they see through you when you put a furry animal on the label)
  • They believe in fun and responsibility so they drink with meals, to be social and to enjoy the taste, but getting drink isn’t a major driver in their decision to have wine
  • They are environmentally and social aware so they support boutique labels, prize ecologically sound practices and expect companies to act ethically

On the balance the Millennials aren’t that different from previous generations of wine lovers. They like the taste, love exploring the diversity of offerings and expect wineries to be responsible organizations. But I think they’ll be more adamant in making sure the industry follows through with promises and they’re not shy to complain. They’re very happy to reach out to Facebook, Twitter and a myriad of other social media sites to chat about what they like and what they don’t like.

The Millennials are also important of course because of their sheer size and purchasing power. In the end I see this as extremely exciting and I think the Millennial contribution to the wine lifestyle will be fantastic. I am glad the future is now.

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