UK consumers under the age of 35 are willing to pay considerably more for wine than older demographics, according to a new report commissioned by London Wine Fair into the attitudes and buying habits of “Generation Y”.
Sponsored by bottling specialist Encirc Wines and carried out by Wine Intelligence over the last six months, the Carpe Vinum report involved an online survey of 4,136 UK wine drinkers, followed up with Generation Y focus groups held in London during February.
Among its key findings, the report reveals that while “most shoppers are willing to pay between £5 and £5.99 a bottle” in the off-trade, “more people under 35 are willing to pay over £8 for a bottle than those over 35.”
However, Carpe Vinum also highlighted a “growing affinity for discounters” among this same generation, which is more averse to supermarket own-label brands, feels that wine lacks the consistency of beer or spirits, and finds wine lists in the on-trade “overwhelming”.
Despite their confidence with the online world, Generation Y displayed an overall hesitation about using this medium for buying wine, showing a tendency to stick to familiar brands and preferring to browse in the familiar surroundings of their local supermarket, where 92% of under-35s buy their wine.
Wine Intelligence categorises 83% of UK adults as wine drinkers, with 56% consuming wine at least once a month – equivalent to 27.5m people. Under-35s currently make up 25%, or 6.9m of these “regular” wine drinkers.
Comparing Generation Y to older demographics, Lulie Halstead of Wine Intelligence described them as “typically more in debt with higher levels of education; they travel more and are more likely to live at home with their parents or in rented accommodation. They’re much more mobile and less likely to save to become home owners.”
The report divides Generation Y into four main groups: Wired Confidents, Mainstream-in-the-making, Female Indifferents and Young Kitchen Casuals. Of these, by far the largest group is Mainstream-in-the-making, which represents 44% of wine drinkers under 35 and accounts for 58% of their total spend.
Although Wired Confidents were defined as the “most knowledgeable group”, accounting for 17% of Generation Y but 29% of total spend, Halstead stressed: “They love wine, they want to interact with wine but their knowledge level is really in its infancy.”
While 10% of regular UK wine drinkers said they would spend over £8 on a bottle of wine in the off-trade, this rose to 52% for Wired Confidents. Within the total 18-34 age group, 15% said they would exceed the £8 mark, compared to 9% of wine drinkers in the over-35 category.
Describing the report as “a bit of a first for an event like ours,” Ross Carter, event director for London Wine Fair, revealed a plan to commission research on an annual basis but highlighted the importance of this initial focus on Generation Y.
“The last six years have seen slower growth in terms of consumption in the UK and so we’re now looking to the next generation to see where that future growth will come from,” he remarked.
Outlining the opportunities for the UK trade flagged up by the report, Halstead remarked: “It’s about communication; that’s key. The days of stopping at a Facebook page for your business are well and truly over.”
Instead, she continued: “It’s much more about understanding how wine is part of their lives, not viewing it isolation. It’s about recognising that wine is just one part of a very complex and evolving lifestyle, and then communicating in a way that’s not intimidating but not dumbing down. It’s about giving small nuggets of information they can remember and then share.”
A copy of the Carpe Vinum report will be given away free to the first 1,000 people through the door of London Wine Fair when it opens next Monday. It will also be available on stands and in restaurants within the fair, while all exhibitors will be able to access the full publication free of charge.
There will also be a presentation of key findings from the report, including a breakdown by retail channel, in the Industry Briefing zone at 10.30am on Tuesday 3 June.