Americans are changing their attitudes to sparkling wine, led by younger drinkers
As 2018 draws to an end, and the holiday season gets into full swing, most if not all of the estimated 45 million Americans who comprise the sparkling wine market in the US will be sipping on a variety of bubbly wine styles, in some cases for the only time this year. Our newly-published Sparkling Wine in the US Market 2018 report finds that the US (following closely behind prominent sparkling wine-producing countries Germany, Italy and France) is a country that is driving value and growth in sparkling wine. More specifically, the US market is the fourth largest market for sparkling wine globally, displaying consistent short- and long-term growth in terms of volumes sold.
And yet, on a per-capita basis, US sparkling wine consumption is anaemic: just 1.1 litres a year per adult, less than half of the volume per head of countries like Australia and the UK and around 1/6 of what a typical German drinks in a year.
Like many markets worldwide, sparkling wine is still a beverage tied to special occasions in the US. However in recent years drinkers are displaying more flexible attitudes towards sparkling wine occasions, which is the first step towards building the per-capita consumption towards the levels seen in other anglophone wine producing countries such as Australia. First, though less than half of all sparkling wine drinkers in the US feel competent about their knowledge of the drink, more than half of consumers find sparkling wine to be a pleasurable drinking experience (noting that, for some, it remains a duty rather than a pleasure). In addition, consumers are showing adventurism towards bubbles, with nearly half of US sparkling wine drinkers stating that they regularly enjoy trying new and different sparkling wine styles.
This more experimental approach seems to correlate with the more open-minded attitudes of US Millennials entering the sparkling wine market, who appear to be less attached to a specific sparkling wine type, but more attached to the category in general. Not only are they more likely to have strong interest in sparkling wine and prioritize wine quality and the purchase process over other age groups, but they are also curious and open to bubbles in general. Evidence from the supply chain and our consumer data tell a similar story: a significantly higher proportion of younger consumers aged 21 to 34 seem willing to try new sparkling styles, and do so regularly, compared to older consumers. The consumer data also shows that younger monthly sparkling drinkers tend to have broader portfolios compared with their older peers.
More information can be found in the Sparkling Wine in the US Market 2018 report.
Author: Emily Carroll