Young Wine Drinkers Abound

Recent study shows Millennials are next market to target.


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Adding to the good news concerning the future of wine consumption in America, a recent consumer study from the Wine Market Council shows that younger wine drinkers are considerably more comfortable with wine and drink it more often than older Baby Boomers.

That finding has far-reaching ramifications. "As these younger consumers age, they will swell the ranks of core wine drinkers," says John Gillespie, president of the St. Helena-based WMC.

The study, which questioned 1,938 respondents, divided American wine drinkers into three demographic segments: Boomers (ages 41-59 in 2006), Generation X (29-40) and Millennials (18-28). All three groups are drinking more wine than they were two years ago, but Millennials are increasing their rate of consumption faster than anyone else. Among Millennials, the net percent of increase was 39 percent, compared with 30 percent more for Generation Xers and only 8 percent more for Boomers.

"We see Millennials behaving with wine in a manner similar to how leading edge Boomers did in the 1970s, and because of the sheer number of Millennials (70 million in 2006), and only the first segment of them has reached drinking age, the effect on the market will be tremendous," Gillespie notes.

That's great news, but California producers, whose wine accounts for about 72 percent of all U.S. wine consumption, "would be well advised to take note of the fact that Millennials are also more likely to buy imports. Winning their hearts and wallets won't be easy to accomplish," Gillespie warns.

Among the study's other optimistic highlights was that consumers are drinking more wine at home than in the past. "This shows we're winning the war," Gillespie says. "Year after year, we have a smaller margin drinking wine only on special occasions. Instead, they're drinking wine with the whole family together at the table. That's the European model, and it's very encouraging."

The Wine Market Council is a nonprofit trade association whose 200 members include wineries, grapegrowers, importers, wholesalers and other industry firms. A summary of the 2005 consumer study can be found at www.winemarketcouncil.com, under the "Research" link.

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