Wine consumption is on the rise — especially among younger drinkers that Big Beer needs to win over.
Millennials consumed 159.6 million cases of wine in 2015, reports Wine Spectator. That’s 42% of all the wine drunk in the US last year, more than any other generation.
Even better for wine sellers, when millennials drink, they’re drinking more. Thanks to younger drinkers, high-frequency wine drinkers went from making up a little less than 8% of 21-and-over adults to nearly 13% from 2005 to 2010, according to data from the Wine Market Council (WMC).
The heavy-drinking, younger consumer is one that was once the assumed customer of iconic, inexpensive beer brands like Bud Light or Budweiser. However, Big Beer has had a hard time courting millennial customers in recent years.
Many younger drinkers increasingly prefer craft beer to big brands that many see as inauthentic and corporate. Like craft beer, wine offers diversity (millennials have the most varied tastes of any generation) and a more mature way to self-identify.
“Wine drinkers are beginning to sort themselves out,” John Gillespie, president of the WMC, said while presenting the organisation’s findings. “It’s the self-identification of, ‘Yeah, I’m a wine person.'”
Wine has even begun to creep into Big Beer’s most valuable marketing event of the year: the Super Bowl. According to a recent Nielsen survey, 20% of legal aged drinkers said they planned to drink wine during the big game. In the past two years, wine sales have increased 8.9% in the week before the Super Bowl — just 0.1% short of beer sales’ increase of 9%.
— Budweiser (@Budweiser) January 26, 2016
Budweiser addressed the rise of wine with a commercial that aired in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl called ‘It’s the Super Bowl, Act Like It.‘ In the ad, a man has a grey, reserved, and disappointing Super Bowl party while sipping wine — until he switches to a can of Budweiser.
Part of the reason wine is thriving is because it has managed to appeal to a key segment of drinkers that Big Beer has historically struggled to attract. Across generations, women drink more wine than men. The split is even more pronounced in younger drinkers, as two-thirds of high-frequency wine drinkers under 30 years old are women.
That’s a market that Big Beer desperately wants to win over. MillerCoors has said that attracting more female customers is essential to regaining the 10% market share beer has lost to wine and hard liquor in the last decade. That means major beer brands will be debuting more marketing moves similar to Bud Light’s latest campaign starring millennial feminist favourite Amy Schumer.
For now, however, wine is on a roll — at least until Generation Z turns 21.
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