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Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Future of Wine: Boomers to Millennials

The Baby Boomers fueled the growth in New World wine starting in the 1970s then through the '80s and '90s when that generation was middle-aged and had buying power for premium wine. Now that Boomers are reaching retirement and fixed incomes the torch is being handed over to Gen-X and the Millennials. You can read a lot of material about how Millennials are changing wine--it's the big subject on the future of wine.

For reference Boomer are considered to be about 50 to 70 years old, Gen-X early 30s through their 40s, Millennials are younger than Gen-X. About 3.5 million Millennial Americans turn 21 each year.

It's interesting that you read so much about the 20-somethings (Millenials) when it comes to wine habits and not so much about those in their 30s and 40s. It's interesting because in my experience the key age demographic for premium wine buying seems to be late 30s through the 50s. This covers most of  Gen-X and still a good piece of the Boomers. So, it seems we should be paying more attention to the Gen-X crowd right now with an eye on what those in their 20s want.

Much is made of the fact those in their 20s being more wine savvy at a younger age than previous generations. And this is great, but at this point in time they aren't buying premium California wines (the bread and butter of Napa and Sonoma). The assumption (hope?) is once they reach peak earnings in their life they'll move from $7 Muscato and $14 Rosé to $50 Cabernet.

It seems the Gen-X group, if you believe all the marketing researchers, is more adventurous than the Boomers and drove the move into craft beers and premium liquor. This means they tend to spread out the alcohol purchases between wine, beer, and hard alcohol. It  also appears that their wine-buying habits aren't a whole lot different from the Boomers.

Just by their sheer numbers the Millennials will influence culture in the coming years as the Boomers did in the 1960s and '70s.

So, I suppose the question is, will the Boomers hand the reigns of wine consumerism over to Gen-X or will those young whippersnapper Millennials jump right in and decide what's hot and what's not?