During the month of January, The Wine Market Council and Nielsen released their joint yearly findings on the latest US wine consumption trends. Without surprises, the report confirmed the maturation of the US wine consumers’ palate, trading up to more expensive wines and reinforced the position of the Millennial generation as the driving force of the market. And while the focus of the study has been placed in certain areas such as women’s consumption habits, the results ignored the single most important characteristic of the Millennial generation: its one-of-a-kind diversity.
THE MILLENNIAL GENERATION IS THE MOST DIVERSE EVER: WHY DISMISS IT?
This is indeed very symptomatic of the conservative nature of the wine business. Wine consumption figures will show you that Caucasians represent the majority of the total wine consumed in the US. However, rarely will the following fact be highlighted: the Millennial generation is most diverse ever: 43% of the Millennial consumers are multicultural (understand non-white).
In 2013, at the occasion of a similar release of main wine consumption trends, Danny Brager, VP Group Client Director at Nielsen said, “Hispanics may not be embracing wine,” “but is the wine industry embracing Hispanics?” More than two years later, it is sadly surprising to notice how the wine business is not making a greater effort to understand and to reach out to a more diverse audience in spite of its obvious potential.
THE SUCCESS OF MOSCATO WITH MULTICULTURAL MILLENNIALS SHOULD HAVE BEEN A WAKE UP CALL
At the beginning of the 2010s, the Moscato phenomenon took the wine industry by storm. Moscato was successful in reaching a “Much more African-American”, “Much more Hispanic, much younger, much lower-income, much more female.” audience said Brager.
The commercial success of Moscato was so unprecedented that it became a case study that demonstrated how powerful and untapped the wine market truly was when reaching out to different communities. Unfortunately, as Moscato sales are now plateauing, it seems that the industry is struggling to capitalize on this success to make multicultural consumers transition and mature into finer wine products.
MULTICULTURAL CONSUMERS ARE ALREADY EMBRACING WINE
What is even more surprising is that there is much more compelling data that clearly demonstrates that Multicultural consumers are already embracing wine, sometimes in unexpected proportions. For instance, the Asian-American community (the fastest growing consumer segment in the US) has some very promising consumption trends. According to Nielsen, “Asian-American millennial female households are 24% more likely to purchase an alcoholic-beverage product, with wine leading the way at 27% higher and beer at 14% higher than non-Hispanic whites”. Nielsen further explains that Asian-American households are 140% more likely to buy a bottle of wine worth $20 or more than non-Hispanic whites”.
Another Nielsen report showed that African-Americans making +$100,000/year were 12% more likely to buy wine online than non-Hispanic whites. Promising wine consumption trends seem to be there but are not acknowledged as they should be.
HISPANIC MILLENNIALS ARE THE BIGGEST GROWTH OPPORTUNITY FOR WINE ORGANIZATIONS
From all the multicultural consumer segments, Hispanics should be the main concern of wine marketers. In September 2013, Rabobank’s food and agribusiness research group made headlines when stating that Hispanics represented a 50 million cases opportunity, over the next 20 years. The study predicted that “Hispanics may buy 96.5 million cases of wine a year by 2033.” Since that study was released, the US demographics took a decisive turn when Latinos officially outnumbered whites in California in 2015.
Hispanics are not only the youngest demographic in America, they are also becoming the new majority in major wine markets. In 2014, Brager said: “Addressing the gap on Hispanics in particular could be imperative as the face of AmericaChanges and changes quickly“
Being culturally relevant is mandatory for the wine industry if it truly wants to tap into the potential of the Hispanic market. According to the Hispanic Millennial Project Study, conjointly released by Think Now Research and Sensis, U.S.-born Hispanic Millennials use food and beverages as a means of connecting to their cultural roots and yet this is where companies struggle the most to connect with consumers. That shows how serious wine marketers will have to be about understanding the Hispanic audience before making their moves.
The wine business has always been traditionalist by nature. Wine supporters call the industry romantic, and describe it as the perfect landscape to tell stories. With values such as traditions, family and roots, the potential avenues that exist to connect with multicultural consumers in general and Hispanics in particular seem endless and extremely promising. 2016 being an election year where diversity will be at the forefront of many conversations, it appears to be a perfect time for the wine industry to finally embrace the New America: Multicultural is the New Black.