The wine industry has been urged to actively court the young adult market, or miss out on a generation of consumers forever.
Speaking at a recent International Wine and
Spirit Competition (IWSC) seminar in London,
publisher of America’s Wine X
magazine Darryl M Roberts cautioned the
industry against waiting for young adults to
come to wine. Wine X is aimed at the
‘Baby boomers embraced wine culture in a way
the next generations have not,’ Roberts said.
‘In the States, per capita consumption of wine
has fallen 20% since 1985. Today’s 21-34 year
olds are drinking 51% more alcohol than those
over 35, and spending US$5bn (€5bn) in the
process – but it isn’t on wine.’
‘People establish their consumption habits for
life during their mid-late 20s,’ he said. ‘We
must integrate wine with the whole lifestyle
portfolio, not isolate it as a separate choice.’
Roberts’ apprehension is supported by data
gathered last month by Wine Intelligence and
Young’s Brewers. While young adults in the
UK are consuming alcohol at a faster growing
rate than the population overall, 18-24 year
olds favour lager, spirits and pre-mixed drinks
over wine. Among 25-34 year olds wine is
consumed, but on average just once a week
and principally at home the survey found.
However, not everyone was sounding caution
against letting the young market look after
‘My biggest fear is dumbing down,’ Michael
Cox, md of Negociants UK, said. ‘The young
must be intrigued into wine, not tricked. We
must make wine a real part of the good life
culture and concentrate on the part it plays in
civilised behaviour. The wine industry should
patiently wait for young adults to attain their
rites of passage.’
The fact that 48% of 18-34 years surveyed
expect to be drinking more wine as they get
older lends weight to Cox’s argument. For all
other alcoholic drinks, respondents expected to
be drinking the same or less.
In the UK the figures are not as gloomy as they
are in the States. Wine is growing in popularity
among young drinkers, particularly women who
are forecast to drink 6.2% more wine in 2004
than they did in 1999. Overall, wine
consumption is predicted to be up by 4.1%.
Screwcaps, easy to pronounce wine names,
smaller bottles and pub/bar pricing were
generally agreed to be more important than
whacky packaging in reaching younger buyers.
‘Quality and price are key,’ Matthew Dickinson
of Thierry’s Wine Services said.
According to survey results, young adults are
most influenced by price and familiarity when
choosing wine, with country of origin and
recommendation not far behind. Label design
was relatively unimportant to those surveyed.