Why is a cartoon commenting on the impact of changing technology showing up on a wine blog… I selected it, because a changing landscape is all too familiar where technology is concerned. Wine consumption is changing in the U.S.. Can the industry adapt?
Predicting the Future of Wine Service
I have been meaning to write this post for a couple of weeks now, since Shanken News Daily published some interesting data. It appears a changing U.S. consumer profile is transforming the wine industry. Shanken recently published information from the U.S. Wine Market Council. It holds some fascinating insights into the challenges coming for wine marketing in the very near future…
- Frequent drinkers (>1/week) are now 13% of all U.S. wine drinkers and 35% of all wine sales.
- Millennials now comprise 36% of all U.S. wine drinkers nationwide compared with Baby Boomers at 34%.
- High-end wine buyers (defined as those regularly purchasing bottles above $20 retail) now account for 36% of frequent drinkers, compared with just 21% five years ago.
- Frequent drinkers are consuming 18% more wine now than they were two years ago, while occasional drinkers are consuming 8% less.
These are trends to note and they carry a clear message ( I believe):
- Millennial consumer data shows them to be more adventurous and willing to explore wine more thoroughly (previous Shanken News data).
- Frequent drinkers now comprise more than 1/3 of the market.
- Frequent drinkers are spending more per per bottle.
Looks like a recipe for major change…
Can On-Premise Food & Beverage Adapt?
Mark Norman (industry consultant) recently wrote a nice piece (link: Sales at Restaurants Plummeting?) regarding this and it had me thinking. Restaurants will definitely be hurt. Per site beverage revenue must increase to support lower margins and increased inventory. There will be no other choice, if they wish to maintain a successful beverage service. This changing consumer demographic is a clear indication: wine distribution’s typical approach to restaurant sales will need to change AND restaurateurs will need more training and knowledge to cater to this new group of consumers. The pressure will be on and it won’t just be about improving wine knowledge and acquiring a broader cellar with a more diverse price offering. The more important differentiator is likely to be business skills. Better marketing, inventory management, ROI and cash flow analysis will be key indicators of quality restaurant wine programs. Interesting times are coming!
Future of the Certified Sommelier
I don’t have a crystal ball, but I don’t think it is too far-fetched to think we will be seeing CS, MBA on biz cards in the coming decade. Somm exams should start including more business related content. As this new group of consumers starts driving larger restaurant wine inventories, more sales volume and lower profit margins, it will justify the need for improving business operations and accounting skill-sets. I like where this is going…