Young Adults are Fast Becoming the Most Important Wine-Drinking Generation
BY JEFF SIEGEL
J
ohn’s Grocery in Iowa City is an
upscale wine retailer whose cus-
tomers include doctors and em-
ployees of the nearby University of
Iowa Carver College of Medicine.
As such, says wine buyer Wally Plahut-
nik, his customers are knowledgeable
and service oriented, regardless of age
and demographic.
Except for one very intriguing thing.
“I can’t get the older ones to use the
camera on their phone to take a picture
of the wine label,” he says. “The younger
ones, no problem. But the older customers
still come in and tell me they had a bottle
of wine, but can’t remember the name.
And when I ask them why they don’t use
the camera, they just sort of look at me.”
In this, Plahutnik is in the middle
of one of the biggest changes the wine
business has ever seen—the revolution
in consumer demographics, of which
the role of new technology is just one
small part. The Baby Boomers, born
between 1948 and 1962 and widely re-
garded as the best friend that retailers
and restaurateurs ever had, are becoming
increasingly less important in the mar-
ketplace. Their replacement? The Mil-
lennials, two generations behind them
but already numerically more significant
among core wine drinkers, according to
the 2012 Wine Market Council report.
Though the Boomers make up 38% of
wine drinkers, they consume only 32%
of the wine. The numbers for Millennials
are 29% and 38%.
More broadly, Boomers will account
for less than 20 percent of the U.S. popu-
lation over the next eight years, and the
number of Baby Boomers younger than
60 will fall by more than two-thirds, ac-
cording to a 2012 study by Jeffries-Alix
Partners. Meanwhile, Millennials (born
between the early 1980s and the early
2000s) older than 25 will make up almost
one-fifth of the country’s population. And
that doesn’t take into account the 8 mil-
lion Millennials who will turn 21 and start
buying wine over the next three years.
“The Boomers are famous for con-
suming more stuff than anyone else in
GO THE
MILLENNIALS
BOOM
Source:WineMarketCouncil
Total core wine drinkers
by generation 2012
Older
Millennials
19%
Millennials
28
Gen X
20
67+
12
Baby
Boomer
40
Younger
Millennials
9%
Millenial Table Wine
Drinking Frequency 2012
Source:WineMarketCouncil
Daily
Weekly+ Once a Week
28
19
44
51
28 30
n
Older Millennials
n
Younger Millennials
However, it is apparent that younger Millennials are
driving the consumption rate up among their generation,
as 28% of this segment re[prted drinking wine daily
compared to 19% of the older Millennials.
ENNIALS GEN X
BABY
BOOMER
67+
88
88
93
93
72
61
62
64
confidence, 2012
(percentage completely/somewhat agree)
ENNIALS GEN X
BABY
BOOMER
67+
85
83
71
61
78
71
56
37
71
66
55
44
64
59
39
28
38
28
16
9
TION 2012
(percentage very/somewhat likely)
LLENNIALS GEN X
BABY
BOOMER
67+
87
88
79
79
82
82
79
72
82
82
75
74
65
69
55
48
75
71
58
39
76
71
55
39
58
56
40
25
48
35
21
14
d GENERATION 2012
(percentage)
22
19
8
22
16
5
20
12
3
21
20
11
18
14
3
22
19
7
Volume consumption
among total
wine Drinkers by generation, 2012
Source:WineMarketCouncil
%
of
Wine
Drinkers
%
Volume
Millennial
29
38
Younger (21-28)
10
14
Older (28-36)
19
24
Gen X
21
21
Baby Boomer
38
32
67+
12
8
n
Restaurant
n
Friend’s Home
n
Other Venues
n
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