Our Premium Wine Drinkers in the US Market 2019 report reveals that while the US premium wine population has remained stable and is spending more per bottle, they are buying wine less often and are getting older
Over the last few years, the US premium market has witnessed the same shifts in consumer attitudes and purchase behaviours that we have seen across multiple global markets. The trends of moderation, health consciousness and category switching have contributed towards reduced wine consumption within the US market and therefore a decreased proportion of daily US premium wine drinkers.
Despite these changes, our Premium Wine Drinkers in the US Market 2019 report reveals that some of the characteristics of US premium wine consumers have not changed since our previous report in 2014. Premium consumers continue to be statistically more likely to be male than female, more affluent and more likely to enjoy trying new wines regularly. Similarly, the US premium wine drinking population remains at around a quarter of all monthly wine drinkers and continues to represent just over a third of total wine volumes consumed.
The main changes are in the age profile: younger consumers (those under 35) have fallen from 48% of the premium wine population to 40%, while the share of 55+ year olds has almost doubled to 23%. The other main change is in share of the total spend, which has taken a hit, dropping from 56% in 2014 to 49% in 2019. What’s causing this? Overall, the picture appears to be one of growing moderation and health consciousness, particularly among younger premium drinkers, plus the growing competition from other alcoholic beverage categories such as craft beer and spirits. To understand which segments of the premium population are more or less influential in these changes, the report focuses on the three US premium consumer segments: Popular Premiums, Super Premiums and the Ultra Premiums.
The first segment, Popular Premiums, are the largest and oldest segment of premium drinkers, typically enjoying wine 1-3 times a week and are settled with their wine repertoire. By comparison, Super Premiums are younger and middle-aged consumers who typically spend a bit more than their Popular Premium counterparts and are keen to discover new wines on a regular basis. Interestingly, however, it is the Ultra Premiums segment – the youngest and highest spending segment of all premium drinkers – that has increased by approximately one million people. As the Ultra Premiums are also the most involved consumers in the category, this increase in numbers correlates with the trend of trading up and swapping quality for quantity that we have seen globally amongst younger and more involved wine consumers.
Although Ultra Premiums are skewing younger, and appear to be growing, the US premium wine drinking population as a whole is aging, suggesting that there is an issue with recruiting and maintaining younger consumers in the category, particularly in the Popular Premiums segment. The interviews for the report support the theory that younger premiums – Millennials – are attracted to the authentic, story-telling aspect of wine and seek connection and knowledge about the product. They are also more likely to seek differentiation as well as pay a premium for alternative wine types, as we have seen with the growth of Ultra Premiums within the US market.
Finally, no discussion of consumers can be complete without an assessment of the opportunities and threats that are facing the market. Due to higher awareness and purchase incidence in the past few years, premium wine drinkers are more likely to trade up and spend more on sustainable, organic and lower-alcohol (SOLA) wines. This was also a key finding of our SOLA 2019 global report series and provides alternative and ethically responsible producers with an opportunity to get ahead of their competitors whilst maintaining a premium price point.