From dry statistical graphs to pithy interview-style summaries, I found researching 2015 wine trends interesting and revealing. While I love studying and learning about wine, I don’t generally get into the weeds of who’s drinking what, how much and at what price. So every now and then, it’s fun to see if what I feel is trending coincides with expert opinion.
As you might suspect, it does on some counts, and not on others. In fact, even experts have differing opinions on some factors. Of course sales statistics don’t lie, but interpretations can vary.
Take a look, for instance at price points. Today’s American consumers are spending on average 3% more per bottle on wine than in years past, according to Joseph Hernandez of Wine Enthusiast. Consumer confidence, a term that’s regularly thrown around gets new meaning in this context: You’ll “risk” more money on a wine if you are pretty sure that it will be a good one, even if you’re unfamiliar with a particular varietal or winery.
You’ll also risk more money on wine if you have economic confidence. Hernandez’s $10 – $15 per bottle ‘sweet spot’ pricing accounts for almost exactly one third of wine sales, with less expensive wines ($6 to $10) accounting for roughly another third (31% according to Erin Guenther of WineBusiness.com). Guenther suspects that people pay more for wine not because they’re being economically imprudent, but because “they’re tired of feeling poor.”
Overall wine consumption is up across the board as wine is increasingly becoming part of our daily culture. According to Guenther, compared to 34% in 1994, today fully 57% of America’s adult population are considered “core” wine drinkers — that is, they drink wine on a regular weekly or monthly basis. Also, more wine is being served at celebrations, and consumers increasingly demand that bars carry a selection of wines in addition to mixed drinks.
Millenials (20 to 37 years old) are becoming an important factor in wine sales and marketing activities. That’s not surprising, considering there are 70 million of them. They bring certain consumption trends too, such as the tendency to purchase imported wines and wines that pair well with popular foods (specifically spicy, Asian cuisines).
Even for non-Millenials, according to Rob McMillan, founder of Silicon Valley Bank’s wine division, American wines face tough competition with excellent imported wines from Spain, Chile and New Zealand. While not all wine professionals think that American wines are declining disturbingly in sales, it does point to the fact that Millenials and others who make wine a more integral part of their lives, seek the story and emotional attraction wine provides, above and beyond taste and price. So, American wine marketers need to become better storytellers, perhaps.