In the United States, Baby Boomers are still currently the generation that consumes the most wine. However, the younger generation (a.k.a. “Millennials”, “Generation Y”, “Echo Boomers”, or “Nexters”) is continually learning about wine and may one day surpass their parental generation in terms of wine consumption. Studies have found that there are significant differences in regards to wine consumption habits between the different age groups; therefore it’s important for wine marketers to get a better understanding of the behaviors for each in order to successfully advertise their wines to each group. Even though there are differences between age groups, it is important to note that these differences are not universal across the globe, and similar age groups in different countries will display different wine behavior and consumption patterns.
To date, most of the studies looking at differences between generations and wine consumption have focused on behaviors and attitudes toward wine; with very few examining the preferences and factors that encourage Millennials to chose wine as their preferred beverage. A study that explores differences in wine preferences between generations (specifically, between the Millennials and their parent generation, the Baby Boomers) should provide very useful information to marketers in the wine industry and give them a better understanding of how to reach this younger generation.
The population of Millennials in the United States is roughly 76 million. Though there isn’t an exact date for classification into this age group, it is understood that those born after 1978 are part of this generation. Millennials tend to be very well educated, self-reliant, and very well connected to technology and the internet (almost 90% are connected to the web). As a result of this strong connection to media and technology, Millennials are more likely influenced by information they find while connected.
Millennials are also very important in terms of their purchasing power. They have their own money, and studies have also shown that they play an important role in their family’s decision making. In regards to brands, it has been shown that Millennials look for brands that provide quality at a fair price. They also prefer that advertisers tell the truth in their ads, and are less swayed by celebrities endorsing a product. Finally, Millennials are more environmentally aware than their older counterparts, and are more environmentally and socially responsible.
What about consumption patterns?
Studies have found that Millennials are more likely to drink wine in bars and restaurants, compared to the older generations who prefer to drink wine at home. Similarly, Millennials prefer drinking wine in social contexts and for relaxation, for example with friends and family in a bar or with a meal. Even though Millennials are self-reliant, they are also easily influenced by other people, so if their friends and family are drinking wine, they are more likely to also drink wine. As a result of this ease of influence, those in the Millennial generation consider recommendations made by retail clerks more important than their counterparts in older generations do.
In the US, Millennials tend to prefer domestic wines to imported wines, though they do show more interest in imported wines than their older counterparts. Studies have also shown that the Millennial generation is the first to start off drinking red wines instead of the usual white or sweeter wines that individually typically start off consuming. According to one study in particular, the Millennial generation prefers mostly red wines, and are also the highest consumers of sparkling wine in the US.
In terms of advertisements, Millennials are more influenced by ads focusing on social interactions rather than specific attributes about the product. Millennials are also more highly receptive to alternatives to the norm, including screw cap closures, more portable packaging such as boxes and bags, as well as smaller sized portions. In terms of labeling, Millennials prefer more creative labels. Finally, Millennials prefer wine advertisements to be different from advertisements for beer or liquor.
The goal of the study presented today was to measure the importance given to US consumers to different attributes of wine when choosing to purchase a wine in an off-premise setting, and to compare the results between Millennials and their older generation counterparts. The results of this study could be important with assisting the wine industry in better reaching the Millennial generation and meeting their needs by developing better marketing strategies.
For this study, a web-based survey was conducted in April 2010. The survey was split into three sections: 1) questions included those referring to the participants’ wine consumption behavior (to screen out those who never purchased wine in an off-premise setting); 2) participants rated the importance of 13 attributes of wine; and 3) questions regarding sociodemographics of participants.
The 13 attributes chosen for the survey were:
- Tasted the wine previously
- Someone recommended it
- Grape variety
- I read about it
- Brand name
- Origin of the wine
- Matches my food
- Information on the shelf
- An attractive front label
- Information on the back label
- Promotional display in the store
- Medal or award
- Alcohol level below 13%
The importance of each attribute was rated using the Best-Worst Scaling method. This method works by asking the participant to indicate the most (best) and least (worst) important attribute from a sub-set of all attributes. In this study, the “most” and “least” important attributes were related to how they influenced a participants’ choice of wine when purchasing in an off-premise location.
- Out of the 260 US consumers participating in this study, 58.8% were women, 84.2% had a higher education, 55.4% were married, and 56.2% had an income over $50,000.
- Participants below the age of 32 were considered Millennials, and participants over the age of 32 were considered part of older generations.
o 45% of participants were Millennials, 55% were part of older generations.
- The Millennial generation was predominantly women, mostly unmarried, had higher education, and made less than their older generation counterparts.
- 45% of participants bought wine less than once per month; 26.5% bought wine between 2 and 3 times per month; and 28.5% bought wine more than once per week.
o There were no significant differences found between Millennials and the older generations in regard to monthly purchasing frequency.
- 33% bought more than 7 bottles, 23.1% bought between 4 and 7 bottles, and 43.5% bought less than four bottles of wine during the last four weeks.
o The Millennials bought significantly fewer bottles of wine than older generations.
- 35.7% of purchases were in liquor stores, 21.8% were in grocery stores, 18.3% were in wine shops, 10.5% were in restaurants, and 9.8% were in wineries.
o The Millennials bought significantly more often from grocery stores, while the older generations bought more from liquor stores and wineries.
- The most important attribute for the Millennials was “tasted the wine previously”, and the least important attribute was “alcohol level below 13%”.
o The same was true for the older generations.
- “Someone recommended it” was significantly more important for Millennials than older generations.
- “An attractive front label” was significantly more important for Millennials than older generations.
- “I read about it” was significantly more important for older generations than for Millennials.
- “Grape variety” was significantly more important for older generations than for Millennials.
- “Promotional display in store” was significantly more important for Millennials than older generations.
The results of this study show that there are significant differences in preferences for wine between the Millennial generation and the older generations in the United States, which is confirmed by similar results of other studies. Though purchase frequency was similar for all generations examined, purchase volume was significantly different, with Millennials purchasing lower volumes of wine than their older counterparts. Also, Millennials preferred purchasing their wines in grocery stores, whereas their older counterparts preferred purchasing from liquor stores or wineries.
According to the authors, the differences noted in this study suggest that the Millennial generations’ preference for wine is influenced more by marketing techniques such as in-store displays/promotions and labeling, whereas the older generations are more influenced by information about the wine, since they are more knowledgeable in general about wine and understand more details that Millennials may not. As a result of the Millennial generations’ limited experience in wine, they are still developing a taste for it and are more easily influenced by certain marketing strategies that target their interests.
Since Millennials are a generation who in the near future will be of high value to the US wine industry, gaining a deeper understanding of their wine preferences and the factors that drive their preferences is crucial for the wine industry and wine marketers to alter their advertising strategies to better target this large group of buyers. Studies, including this one, have shown that in store promotion and labeling is most influential on the wine purchasing behavior of Millennials, therefore it is in the wine industry’s best interest to focus on these areas for advertising. Since Millennials wine preferences are still evolving, and they have been shown to be more open to new experiences and new types of wine, marketers should think about focusing their new product advertising directly on Millennials instead of older generations, who are already “set in their ways” in regards to wine preferences.
Since the sample sizes were relatively small, it’s tough to say if the results of this study are representative of the entire US Millennial population. Future studies should be performed using a larger number of participants from all corners of the country. Also, it would be interesting administer these questionnaires to Millennials all over the world, in order to get an idea of who Millennials’ wine purchasing behavior changes (or remains the same) in different cultures.
What do you all think of this study and its results? Please feel free to comment below (no html tags, please).
Source: Chrysochou, P., Krystallis, A., Mocanu, A., and Lewis, R.L. 2012. Generation Y preferences for wine: An exploratory study of the US market applying best-worst scaling. British Food Journal 114(4): 516-528.
I am not a health professional, nor do I pretend to be. Please consult your doctor before altering your alcohol consumption habits. Do not consume alcohol if you are under the age of 21. Do not drink and drive. Enjoy responsibly!