Friday, February 1, 2019

Millennials are talking but the wine industry isn't listening

In the last two weeks I watched two separate annual State of the wine Industry presentations. Both were focused on millennials and were worried that they aren't drinking as much wine as hoped.

The reasons why were all in the reports. But the wine industry is pretty much doing the exact opposite of what millennials are saying they want.

First, take a look at the two stories, then come back here and I'll explain. Here's the story from the Silicon Valley Bank report. I did not suggest or agree with this headline, but it's hard to blame my editor for trying to attract page views in a month that saw some of the largest layoffs in history for online news organizations. Clickbait helps pay my wages: Millennials now ruining wine as well

Second, here's the story from the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium. This headline is also clickbaity but reflects what was said: Wine and sex off the millennial menu

Now, forget about sex and smartphones. Let's talk about what millennials are telling the wine industry they want -- and how the industry is ignoring them

1. Millennials like healthy products

Why else would kombucha be so popular? Millennials care about what they put in their bodies.

So what's the wine industry's response?


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

People who make good wine have nothing to fear from cannabis competition

Graphics courtesy Silicon Valley Bank
The wine industry has been warily eyeing cannabis since before the first state legalized it. Now that a wave of legalization is spreading across the U.S., owners of small wineries are gettting nervous.

Wine sales are actually dropping for the first time in 25 years
Rob McMillan, executive vice president of Silicon Valley Bank's wine division, was especially gloomy about the future of wine in his influential annual report earlier this month. McMillan said millennials aren't buying as much wine as he expected, and they especially aren't buying expensive wine. (Here's a full story on McMillan's report.)

McMillan cited cannabis as one reason younger consumers aren't drinking as much wine. There is probably some truth to that, at the volume sales level.

Paradoxically, sales are dropping for the cheapest wines, even though supposedly-broke millennials can't afford wine. Sales for wines over $12 are continuing to climb.

Put these numbers together and here is the conclusion: Cannabis is not hurting all wine sales. It's hurting cheap wine sales. And not just with millennials. If you spend any time in cannabis shops in Northern California, you'll notice there are plenty of boomers buying weed. And as you can see from the next chart, it's not stopping them from buying wine.