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Wine gains on beer as US youth drink of choice

Wine is gaining ground on beer as the drink of choice for young Americans, a Nielsen survey has found.

The so-called ‘Millenial’ generation still shows an overall preference for beer, which is still most often cited as the ‘favorite’ alcoholic drink, but wine and spirits are both gaining ground.

On a dollar basis of purchases, beer has slipped as young Americans’ first choice of alcoholic drink from 59%to 47%, and wine and spirits show even growth to 27% and 26% respectively.

The 70m strong Millennial Generation – 21 to 30 year-olds – is set to become the most influential group in terms of drinks buying, at the same time as the US is poised to become the top wine buying nation in terms of dollars by 2010.

Millennial consumers outnumber the so-called Generation X (usually classed as those born between 1964 and 1980) and rival the 77m-strong 45-to-65 year-old baby boomer generation in market influence.

According to the study, Millennials ‘frequently seek new tastes and are willing to pay a premium for alcoholic beverages.’

‘The Millennials are primed to be an extremely influential group,’ said Richard Hurst at ACNielsen. He added they are ‘at the beginning of their careers,’ and are ‘a sizeable group with many purchasing years ahead of them.’

Raised with diverse beverage choices and perhaps more discriminating taste than previous generations, young American drinkers are more sophisticated at a younger age, and more discriminating than their predecessors.

Compared to older generations, American Millienials show a preference for red wines, choosing reds over whites 51% by volume, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir as favorites. Chardonnay remains the most popular white, with Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling gaining ground.

They are also more inclined to socialize, and to choose a more expensive drink compared to older consumers.

Written by Tim Teichgraeber in San Francisco

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