Wine data article 180x180 - Wellness, moderation and wine in the US

Wine Intelligence CEO Lulie Halstead spoke at the Wine Market Council event Wine Data 2020 on the subject of wellness and moderation and how these are impacting the future of wine

Are US consumers shifting towards wellness and moderation and how is this impacting the future of wine? This question was at the heart of Lulie’s presentation at Wine Data 2020 this January, hosted by Wine Market Council, where she spoke on the topic of wellness and moderation in the US market. Lulie joined a panel of speakers including Andrew Adams from Wine Analytics Report, Danny Brager from Nielsen, Jon Moramarco from bw166 and Dale Stratton from Wine Market Council.


  1. Why the shift towards wellness and moderation in the US?

Logically, moderation seems like a good idea – cutting back on alcohol consumption can help you to lose weight, run further, get fitter, and hopefully live a long and healthy life. However, that’s assuming we are all rational human-beings. In reality, as Richard Thaler discusses in his theory of behavioural economics, our decisions are driven by what others think of us, our habits and a group or ‘pack’ mentality.

This leads to two key drivers of human behaviour: ‘I want to look good to me’ and ‘I want to look good to others’. From a behavioural perspective, these are the main motivators fuelling the moderation trend, which is resulting in over a third of US regular wine drinkers actively reducing the amount of alcohol that they drink, according to our US Landscapes 2020 report.


  1. Who is moderating their alcohol consumption and how?

The Wine Intelligence US Landscapes 2020 report shows that 37% of all US regular wine drinkers are actively reducing their alcohol intake. This trend is mainly being driven by Millennials, with over half of drinkers aged between 21 and 34 claiming to be moderating their alcohol consumption. By comparison, almost three quarters of mature drinkers, those aged over 55, are not actively moderating – the age group least sensitive to health and wellness trends.

We are seeing those who are moderating their consumption switch to lower-alcohol options or non-alcoholic beverage options such as soft drinks and ‘mocktails’. There is a fairly even split between the two options, at 42% and 58% respectively; however, there is a gender difference. Whilst 45% of male regular wine drinkers are opting for lower alcohol options, 62% of female regular wine drinkers are moving towards zero alcohol options and avoiding alcohol altogether. This trend is not exclusive to the US and is even more prominent in other markets.

who is moderating - Wellness, moderation and wine in the US

how moderating - Wellness, moderation and wine in the US

  1. What other alcohol choices are US wine drinkers switching to?

The proportion of regular wine drinkers in the US who drink wine most or every day has fallen significantly between 2008 and 2019, from 14% to 10%. Why? Wine consumers are not only moderating from alcohol, but they are also switching to other beverage alcohol categories.

For the US regular wine drinkers switching out of wine, craft beer and hard seltzer are the most popular alternative alcohol choices, with over 55% of US regular wine drinkers switching from wine to hard seltzer. Countering the moderation trend, consumers are also switching to higher-alcohol beverages, including whisky and vodka.

This trend of category-switching is primarily being driven by younger consumers, but not exclusively – mid-aged consumers aged between 30 and 55 are also drinking more craft beer and hard seltzer, becoming more adventurous in different alcohol categories as alternatives to wine.

category switching - Wellness, moderation and wine in the US


  1. Who is living a ‘free from lifestyle’ and what does this mean for the wine category?

Consumers choosing a ‘free-from’ lifestyle – the term used to describe food and beverages that excludes components such as gluten, sugar and dairy – still make up a relatively small proportion of US regular wine drinkers. Unsurprisingly, this trend is being driven by the younger population, with 20% of regular wine drinkers aged 21 to 34 claiming to be actively participating in this lifestyle. However, the trend is not exclusive to younger drinkers – 14% of regular wine drinkers between the ages of 35 and 54 are also actively opting for free-from products.

To assess how this trend plays out in wine, we can review our market opportunity index. The score for each alternative wine type is based on how regular wine drinkers answer questions such as ’have you heard of this type of wine?’, ’would you purchase this?’ and ’would you consider purchasing it?’. In the US, and across most global markets, organic wine typically ranks first. This is because most consumers understand what organic is. Regular wine drinkers have a perception, even if they’re not technically correct, that organic means free from chemicals and that it is therefore better for both them and the environment – back to our behavioural motivators,

By age, the opportunity index for alternative wines such as preservative free and sulphite free is similar across all age groups, building into the positioning of ‘free from’ as better for us. However, vegan and vegetarian wine is much more popular with regular wine drinkers between 21 and 54 than the over 55s, mirroring the pattern we have seen with moderation trends.

freefrom - Wellness, moderation and wine in the US


Market opportunity index - Wellness, moderation and wine in the US

 5. How do we take this and drive success in the wine category?

From a wellness and moderation perspective there are three key takeaways for wine to positively communicate and embrace these trends.

  1. Positive not negative: Gain-framed messaging.

Position and communicate the positive personal benefits and also the broader societal benefits of alternative wine types, rather than focusing on the ‘what’s missing’ or ‘what you need to give up’

  1. People like you: Social signalling

Focus messaging and positioning on the ‘collective good’

  1. Feel not fact: Service both the self and external

Keep communications focused on both the personal benefits but also the external benefits of alternative wine types


Moderation and wellness are just about the extrinsic, rational motivators. The key drivers are more intrinsic and deeper rooted in the human behavioural desire to feel good about ourselves and look good to others.


Lulie 2 250x300 - Wellness, moderation and wine in the US

Alice Brockman More 2 250x300 - Wellness, moderation and wine in the USAuthors: Lulie Halstead and Alice Brockman-More

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