According to Deloitte Research, Millennials born between 1982 and 1993 have an annual income of $200 billion and can expect to inherit $17.8 trillion from previous generations, making this the WEALTHIEST GENERATION EVER. Many industries are frantically trying to capitalize on this, from insurance companies to banks to the automotive business, so where does the wine industry fit in?
It is crucial that the wine business harnesses the potential of this affluent generation now.
Millennials love wine and are buying it in record numbers. We have already made the choice to enjoy wine, much to the amazement of many industry professionals. However, many young people do not feel like they would be accepted in the current wine culture and therefore don’t seek to be a part of it. For example, many would rather purchase the same big brands in the anonymity of a grocery store aisle rather than risk being embarrassed by lack of knowledge in a wine shop. For the US Wine Industry, this means that a large part of the generation (which John Gillespie calls the “future of the wine industry”) could potentially continue to support the same few enormous companies that they find in these stores – both domestic and foreign – instead of supporting the thousands of smaller independent producers and merchants that the American wine industry has to offer. It is crucial that the wine business harnesses the potential of this affluent generation now. There must be a paradigm shift.
Take a tip from the Millennials: go grassroots. Every person in the wine industry that deals directly with consumers has the potential to make an impact. Be an ambassador.
The next time a Millennial enters your store, tasting room, restaurant, bar or event, take the time to speak with them. Answer their questions, ask some of your own, and add to their base of knowledge. Many newer wine drinkers, not just Millennials, are intimidated by the “old school” exclusive and snobbish wine culture – make it your goal to debunk this stereotype. Welcome them into the wine community. It’s time to invoke a variation on The Campsite Rule: Leave each young wine-drinker with a better wine experience than when you found them.
If we in the wine industry can take advantage of the circumstances and cultivate this group not just as the new generation of wine buyers, but as the NEW GENERATION OF THE WINE COMMUNITY – we can create a lasting relationship that will benefit everyone for years to come.