At its annual presentation this week at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, the Wine Market Council—an independent, nonprofit trade association—and the Nielsen Company reported their findings on U.S. consumer wine trends. They declared that while we may have reached the turning point of meteoric growth of wine consumption in America, the future is still bright for individual wine categories, beer and spirits. The presentation included a segment of wine perceptions by New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov. Here are some of the highlights.
The Rise of the iGeneration. This 60-million strong, tech-savvy segment of emerging wine drinkers (born 1995-2015) is “the most diverse and connected of all generations before it,” according to John Gillespie, president of the Wine Market Council, and is beginning to enter the adult beverage market this year. Expect a seamless use of the Internet to drive their choices and an unprecedented level of brand experimentation.
A Balance of Gender. For the first time ever, female wine drinkers in America outnumber men at 54% in overall consumption. In the high frequency consumption category, women now comprise 50% of the market. Women are also a new driving force in whiskey trends and sales.
Red blends on the rise. Red blends are “the big growth story” according to the reports and represent the largest increase in varietal consumption last year, growing 15%, with an average price of $8.33.
Beer and wine behaviors continue to intersect. The reports revealed that 69% of high frequency wine drinkers are also high frequency beer drinkers, with craft beer consumption growing 15% overall this last year.
Social media the key to wine conversation. 62% of millennial consumers and 40% of Gen X wine drinkers are using Facebook to discuss and recommend wines to one another, say the studies, with Twitter at 38% and 21%.
Millennials still at center stage. Millennials (ages 21-38, 70 million total in America) comprise 30% (and growing) of high frequency wine drinkers in America, eclipsed only by Baby Boomers (38%). Adventurous and curious, they are continuing to push growth in wine consumption from countries like Portugal, New Zealand and Greece, the studies say. Interestingly, Millennials are drawn to traditional methods in choosing wines: 56% said they consider wine reviews to be “extremely” or very” important.
Wine culture evolving, but still a perception of wine as “exotic.” Asimov asserted that while wine is being seen more frequently in more mainstream culture (citing popular television shows such as “Scandal” and “The Good Wife” as promoting wine), it’s still perceived by mainstream Americans as “somewhat exotic, elite and foreign.” Also, while food culture has become increasingly pervasive, wine culture, he says, “is about 10 years behind food culture.”
Wine growing faster than all other Nielsen categories. Danny Brager, senior vice president of Nielsen’s beverage Alcohol Practice Area, says that although 65% of people polled still “believe they are in a recession,” wine continues to show the largest growth of all measured Nielsen areas. Brager also said that combined retail and dining establishments (grocery and dining-in-one/shopping and dining-in-one) is a growing trend in wine retail, branding one such concept as a “groceraunt.”