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Wine Paris: Younger generations key to unlocking on-trade

Published:  17 November, 2022

Ahead of Wine Paris and Vinexpo Paris in February 2023, organisers have partnered with Wine Intelligence to delve into the drinking habits of UK wine consumers.

Wine Intelligence, a division of the IWSR group, surveyed over 1000 UK wine drinkers to offer a comprehensive overview of the market, both on trade and off trade.

Among the key takeaways from the press briefing on 16 November was the role the younger generations might play in reinvigorating wine sales in the off-trade. According to Wine Intelligence, Gen Z (18-24) and Millennials (25-39) account for only 26% of the regular wine-drinking population but for 50% of total spend on wine in bars, pubs and restaurants.

The research found that across all age groups, the vast majority drink wine in restaurants (80%), but the main difference is the consumption of wine in bars and pubs. Just 52% of Boomers (55+) drink wine in bars and pubs compared to 82% of Gen Z. 

LDA (Legal drinking age) Gen Z and (to a lesser extent) Millennials reportedly drive still wine consumption in the on-trade, especially for up-tempo social occasions. Meanwhile, the report stated that Millennials exhibit a particularly high willingness to trade up in the on-trade.

This suggests that wine has specific social values for the younger generations, potentially prompting curiosity, involvement and higher spend levels on special occasions. 

However, Boomers and Gen X (40-54) remain key targets for the wine industry – representing a combined 73% of the wine-drinking population and 66% of total spend in off-trade.

Predictably, older consumers are mostly focused on functional attributes (taste, relaxation, food matching) and are less interested in trying different styles (31% of Boomers said they would try new styles vs 48% of Gen Z and Millennials).

Furthermore, fewer Boomers exhibit an interest in alternative wines (less than 10%), whereas the rest of the wine-drinking population have sought to buy Fairtrade wine, ‘natural wine’, organic wine, environmentally friendly wine and vegan wine in the last six months (10%+ penetration).

In the off-trade, consumers aged 18-39 account for 34% of total spend in off-trade, despite only accounting for 26% of the wine-drinking population. 

The younger generations have an even greater share of wine spend in the e-commerce sector, where Gen Z and Millenials account for 48% vs 31% of Boomers.

As mentioned above, Gen Z and Millennials account for just 26% of the wine-drinking population (Boomers account for 48%). However, the younger generations are punching well above their weight in pubs and bars, alternative styles and online purchases – all of which are significant areas of growth in the industry.

In the here and now, Boomers are vital to the trade because of their habitual purchasing patterns but the younger generations will be key to unlocking new revenue streams, especially in the on-trade.