The wine industry could lose a generation of customers if it doesn’t get better at capturing the attention of younger drinkers, according to a survey commissioned by Vinexpo.
In a study of 100 occasional wine drinkers aged 20-25 (20 each in London, Paris, Brussels, New York and Tokyo), focus group participants said they are curious about wine, but deterred by too many choices and styles, complex labelling and wine’s stuffy image.
At the same time, a study of over 500 18-25 year olds conducted by decanter.com confirmed that this age group is interested in wine, and eager to learn more.
‘The vast majority of respondents [to the decanter.com survey] don’t consider wine a culprit in binge-drinking,’ said editor-at-large Adam Lechmere.
‘Furthermore, they believe it’s their parents’ job – not the government’s – to teach them a responsible approach to consumption.’
Dubbed ‘the first generation’ of drinkers by Vinexpo CEO Robert Beynat, this age group views wine as a social lubricant and a source of pleasure without guilt.
Beynat added that in some instances, the young people surveyed indicated that they would welcome industry efforts to market wine directly to them.
This finding was dismissed by Stephanie Doering, assistant sommelier at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze restaurant in London, who is 24.
‘Young people do not want to be treated differently, they just want to be taken more seriously,’ she said, describing her own experience as a customer in a respected wine shop where she felt ignored by the staff due to her youth and casual dress.
‘There is no need for a kind of Ikea kindergarten section for us in wine shops, but sommeliers and shop assistants need to be better trained at engaging with younger clients. As a sommelier I can tell you that if you make an effort to get them interested, they will spend more money.’
Written by Maggie Rosen