Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Generation Wine Y

There is good news concerning the future of wine consumption in the USA. There was a recent consumer study from the Wine Market Council showing that younger wine drinkers are considerably more comfortable with wine, and drink it more often, than older Baby Boomers. They are labeled "Generation Wine Y" -- could the 'Y' stand for "Youngsters?"

The study, which surveyed 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). Their study showed that these 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 for Generation Xers and just 8 percent more for Boomers.

The study also shows that the Millennials are behaving, at least with wine, in a similar manner as the Boomers did in the 1970s.

It's apparent that if you are merchandising wine, you need to be wine-savvy and hip (or is it "cool", "rad", "bitchin'" or "that's hot"). The wine "youngsters" of today can spot a "wine poseur." From working tasting rooms and sitting in viticulture/enology classrooms, I've learned that the new, young wine consumer tends to be well-educated, sophisticated and well-traveled. They are inquisitive about grapes and wine production, and may ask about everything from "the bilateral cordon" to "geranium taint." They love to debate SO2 v. organics. And it isn't unusual for them to ask questions that are beyond the information printed on tasting-room hand-outs. If you are working sales in this industry, you may need more education than "Wine for Dummies 101," though if you feel you don't need much education you might never know these well-informed kids could be laughing behind your back. Many times I have felt the "Wine Youngster" knew the answer but was testing me to see if I was worthy. A few times they almost got the best of me!

If you are a wine-loving Boomer, you will be looking into the faces of your own children or maybe even grandchildren as the wine experts of tomorrow. The image of the distinguished white- haired man in the tweed jacket with the tastevin and sash around his neck is obsolete.

I love Generation Y. This new generation of wine lovers will keep me young in this industry and keep me current with new wine info. These kids will also make me reach into my old brain to find the answers to wine questions that I may not have thought of in years, and that's a good thing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find this article very interesting and at the same time a little skewed. The millenials are the group that currently have the most expendible cash so therefor drive the current market. GenX use to drive the market but now they have houses and kids and cars, etc. The boomers can't retire just yet and are funneling all of their money to their spoiled millenial children. Once the millenials grow up the next generation will take over and we'll hope that they find wine to be just as hip as their predessors. BTW the new term is "sick" as in "That was the sickest jump I've ever seen. or That is the sickest wine label ever made, I would totally pay $500 just to have that in my room" Also GenX and the millenials are combined to be generation debt. Once we all grow up and realize that it is harder now to file for bankruptcy and that our boomer parents are spending what was supposed to be our inheritance on the rising cost of their health care/nursing homes then we will not have as much $ to spend on the hobby of wine. Sadly, like the boomers, our children will be able to buy better wine then us and they'll know more too. Damn kids! :)

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