wine toast

Photography by Bill Masson

The standard picture of the U.S. wine market one gets from reading industry commentary is that premium wine consumers are baby boomers who will gradually age-out of their prime consumption years. The challenge is to figure out how to get millennials (born in the early 1980’s) to buy more wine.

A new study reported by the Academic Wino suggests the standard picture is not right.

Questionnaires were returned by 1021 adults, 681 of which were high-frequency wine consumers, drinking wine at least several times per week. They were then subdivided into groups defined by the price of their average bottle purchase. Among all high-frequency consumers,  the high spenders (over $15 per bottle) had the lowest average age—38 yrs. old. (Because it is an average this group would likely include many millennials)

This group showed the greatest interest in wine, were more involved with wine, participated in more conversations about wine, and thought of purchasing a bottle of wine as an important decision.

So the most avid wine consumers tend to be younger than any other category of wine drinker. All the caveats about small sample size apply here, but this is good news for an industry worried about a supply of new customers.

Then there was this story yesterday with the headline: “Millennials Hate Beer Morgan Stanley Report Finds”

MorganStanley found that consumers of all stripes intend to buy less beer going forward. A whopping 24 percent of consumers surveyed in 2015 said that they plan to decrease their beer consumption in the next year, while just 8 percent said they plan to increase it.

The trend is especially marked among the young. MorganStanley found that millennial consumers are less interested than their older peers in macro-brews, and that they increasingly prefer wine and spirits. Any affection millennial consumers have for beer is waning fast: In 2012, 33 percent of millennials surveyed cited beer as their favorite beverage, but only 27.4 percent said so in 2015.

I enjoy a good beer especially after a long day of sampling red wine. And I wish the craft brewers well. But the Macro-brews can join Twinkies and Moon Pies as symbols of a by-gone era.