Wine experts worry about their dependence on older consumers

For years, baby boomers have been driving most of the wine-sales growth in the US. That means, 60 percent of the legal-drinking-age growth comes from older consumers that will soon be in the 70+ category, which could slow growth.

Wine experts are concerned because the industry has been riding on the “wine is good for you” trend since the early 1990s, but “negative” press about alcohol is growing and turning older drinkers off wine, according to the boss of one of the largest U.S. wine companies.

A 1991 story by CBS News’ “60 Minutes” program on the “French paradox,” suggesting red wine could be good for you, drove up consumption. But in more recent years, the industry has paid scant attention to growing bad publicity, Vos said.

According to Winespectator, another reason for concern is that retirement often means more frugal spending. According to one report, when wine club staff ask why a member is leaving the club, increasingly the answer is ‘I’m retiring.’

But what about all those Millennials? Data shows that Millennials do like wine. But while they may have a better appreciation of wine compared with the other cohorts at a similar age in development, many lack the financial capacity to purchase.

Wineries will have to work hard and smart to retain older customers, while also trying to attract new ones. They need to re-evaluate the entire customer journey through the prism of ageing and remove any potential barriers to that experience. As they move to embrace the new, younger consumer with apps and online ordering, they must not fall into the trap of forgetting the ‘bread ‘n butter’ older drinkers.

Our free iPad app provides a checklist of issue to look out for in creating a customer experience that works across age-groups.