When Baby Boomers had long hair and marched in the streets in protest of the Vietnam War and on behalf of Civil Rights, who knew that they would become the savvy wine buyers of today? Wine wasn’t hip. Wine wasn’t cool.
Fast forward to today. The consumers buying wine today are those same long haired, pot smoking, idealistic folks who marched in the streets. They are not only buying wine, but they lead the pack when it comes to premium wine sales.
Who is the next Boom generation? According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials – today’s 18 to 34 year olds, are projected to surpass the Baby Boom generation as the nation’s largest living generation. The numbers are staggering, 75.3 million compared to the 74.9 million Baby Boomers and they outnumber Gen X’ers by nearly 25 million.
Millennials are the first generation in US history to have grown up with wine at the family dinner table. And the resulting shift in preferences is evident in the numbers: a few years ago beer accounted for 59% of this age group’s purchases in the alcoholic beverage category. Today that number is twelve percentage points lower, while wine and spirits have increased in relative proportion.
At WineDirect, we continually review the consumer data that we pull from the online activities of our ecommerce customers. What we found was that while the millennial consumers do not have the current buying power of Boomers, we have seen a gradual increase in sales volume and value. During the last three years, Boomers consistently have made up slightly less than 50% of the buyers across all wineries. Gen X’ers hover just over 30% of orders and revenue.
While millennial buyers fall behind both of these groups in order volume and revenue, their numbers have gradually increased over the three years. Is it wise to discount a group of people that are over 70 million strong? They are just now shaping their tastes and represent an enormous opportunity for wineries.
According to an article in Medical Daily, millennials are drinking more than any other group before them and many are choosing wine. They are shaping their preferences and building relationships. The consumption of Boomers will decrease due to an aging population; millennials are shaping up to be the next Boom generation. Their buying power will increase and their numbers can’t be ignored.
Millennials aren’t the leaders for buying premium wine today but they do represent the biggest opportunity for future growth. Wineries should think about how they connect with these potential buyers. The fact that they are constantly online and engaged in social media should not be ignored. Unlike generations before them, millennials are choosing wine. Connecting with this group now will pay benefits in the years to come.