Are Millennials Are Destroying Wine?
Since the release of the 2019 Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) State of the Wine Industry Report, there has been no shortage of dire warnings about the future of the wine industry here in the U.S. and millennials are to blame. One Vine Wines takes a look.
Who Are Millennials Anyway?
The Pew Research Center defines millennials as born in the years 1981 – 1996. As of May 2019, the age range is from 23 – 38, and more heavily skewed toward the younger end of the spectrum.
Pew chose these dates for "key political, economic and social factors," including the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Great Recession, and the internet.
According to the SVB report, by 2027 millennials will surpass Gen Xers to become the largest fine wine–consuming cohort. Eight years from now!
Silicon Valley Bank Disses Millennials’ Relationship With Wine
According to the 2019 SVB report, data indicates that millennials aren’t yet embracing wine as the industry anticipated.
Reasons for millennials’ lack of enthusiasm:
Lack of financial capacity
Negative health impact of alcohol
Not recognizing the health benefits of moderate wine consumption
Preference for craft beer and premium spirits (cocktails)
Increasing availability of wine imports
More choice in private and white label wines
Declining tasting room visits (in some areas)
SVB summarizes the report stating that wineries must adapt to a changing consumer with different values and points of interaction to thrive going forward.
While we agree with this point of view, Old World wineries have been adapting to changing conditions and consumers over centuries. Perhaps the new world is just waking up to this realization.
Millennials Are Challenging the Industry Because it is BORING!
According to Chad White, C.S. and Wine Buyer at Sherlock’s Wine Merchant in Atlanta, GA., “the SVB report was written by a 50-year-old white guy.” Perhaps SVB needs to engage more millennials when analyzing the data.
According to Chad (a millennial at 29,) his generation engages with wine, just not in traditional ways. To him, millennials are:
- frugal, not poor. Napa wines are too saturated, too oaky and overpriced. 60% of California wine is “off the list” due to affordability.
- interested in anything not Napa and not cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay. They appreciate wine, but not the traditional view.
- looking for quality and value
- avoiding standardized wines and are more experimental and curious. They want variety and uniqueness.
- interested in experiences more than in products
- less serious and want to have fun
- looking for expanded availability and convenience
This generation grew up with parents who were engaged with wine. They have more choices in wine, and higher quality wine, than any previous generation. But, as with most young people, they don’t make the same choices as their parents. They want to make beverage choices of their own, including wine.
Overall, they choose high-quality products offering value and experience. These, include craft beer and premium spirits (customizing cocktails is entertaining.) For millennials, quality, value and experience must also apply to wine.
Their frugal ways may be due in part to high college debt but this also led them to different career choices. Many found they could make money in wine. In Atlanta alone there are about 40 millennial-aged sommeliers and counting. The wine business is good and millennials are participating.
What Can My Wine Business Do to Engage Millennials?
Millennials are creating their own vision of what wine is in their lives. The wine trade can do the same: create new opportunities for engaging with millennials.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Offer a range of price points from $50 and below with a heavier focus around $20
- Offer quality and value
- Look for unique offerings and eclectic categories
- Feature other U.S. regions: Sierra Foothills, Santa Barbara, Oregon, Washington, New York, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Georgia, etc.
- Reveal the wide world of grapes beyond cabernet sauvignon & chardonnay
- Encourage curiosity & experimentation
- Creatively educate consumers about different wine styles and facets of wine
- Be less serious and more fun – avoid snobbery
- Avoid experts and ratings – encourage and share consumer comments
- Promote convenience and availability
- Allow maximum flexibility in wine club memberships and encourage sharing
- Hire some millennials!
The best way for anyone to learn to appreciate wine is by tasting as much and as often as possible. Make experimentation easy, inexpensive, exciting, fun and curious and millennials will be yours.
One Vine Wines Has What Millennials Want
One Vine Wines is a nontraditional importer and distributor of fine wine. In an industry reluctant to adapt and change, we harnessed technology to usher in the modern age. Our team of industry veterans taste thousands of wines a year and bring to our clients wines that represent outstanding quality and value. Through technology, we eliminated many of the inefficiencies of the wholesale wine trade. One Vine Wines is paving a better way to conduct business in the wholesale wine trade.
Learn how you can improve your wine business with One Vine Wines.