10 Reasons Why Gen Z and Millenials Aren't 'Vibing' with Wine

Jul 28, 2023by Andrew Lowry

Wine has long held a special place in the hearts of consumers, from seasoned connoisseurs to casual enthusiasts. However, in recent years, the wine industry has encountered a growing challenge: the waning interest of Gen Z and Millennials. These younger generations are veering away from traditional wine consumption and turning towards alternative beverages like seltzer, kombucha, craft beer, and cocktails. They are especially attracted to easily accessible canned drinks and cocktails with a low level of commitment (i.e. they can have one 12-ounce serving as opposed to 25 ounces of wine, oh, AND they need a corkscrew to access the wine AND they have a clunky, heavy glass bottle to carry around AND they need a glass to pour the wine into just to enjoy it.) Let's dive deeper into specific problems and proposed solutions.

Understanding the Decline:

1. Changing Lifestyles and Preferences:

Gen Z and Millennials have grown up in a rapidly evolving world marked by technological advancements and globalization. They prioritize authenticity, sustainability, and inclusivity in the products they consume. The wine industry's traditional and formal image does not resonate with their desire for unique experiences and individual expression, leading to a disconnect between wine and Gen Z and Millennials.

2. Health and Wellness Trends:

Health consciousness is a dominant trait among Gen Z and Millennials. They are increasingly mindful of their well-being and seek products with perceived health benefits to benefit rather than degrade their health. Beverages like seltzer and kombucha, which are often marketed as healthier alternatives, appeal to this desire for functional and wellness-driven choices. They tend to have lower alcohol levels by volume, they come in a more approachable size, they are easier to dispose of, and their industry professionals have done an amazing job marketing these products. 

3. Image Perceptions:

The wine industry has historically been associated with an elitist and upscale image, creating a perception of exclusivity. I mean you bring wine to a party and the first comment you'll get is "Oh you fancy," and everyone "knows" wine is only for fancy dinners and special occasions, and everyone "knows" that wine is soo expensive. Gen Z and Millennials value inclusivity and approachability. This divergence in image and values may deter them from embracing wine as their beverage of choice.

4. Rise of Alternative Options:

The popularity of craft beer, innovative cocktails, and flavored beverages has surged among younger generations. These alternatives offer a diverse array of flavors, creative branding, and personalized experiences, creating strong competition for wine. Plus, they are crushing the marketing game! The only segment of wine that is crushing the marketing game is Champagne. EVERYONE loves Veuve. Why? Because they spend a FORTUNE on marketing and engaging with influencers and creating awesome events.

Possible Ways Wine Can Reconnect with Young Drinkers:

To win back Gen Z and Millennials and become their preferred beverage, the wine industry should implement the 10 solutions below.

1. Embrace Authenticity and Transparency:

The wine industry must be transparent about its practices, showcasing sustainable viticulture and ethical sourcing. By embracing authenticity and environmental consciousness, wine producers can resonate with the values of Gen Z and Millennials, as they are increasingly drawn to brands that align with their principles. No one knows that most wine is organic and sugar-free. They want to see certifications on the label, but they don't know that wine grapes have been farmed organically for millennia. Many countries don't even know what organic means because they know no other way of farming.

2. Rebranding and Marketing:

Rebranding wine to cater to the preferences and lifestyles of younger generations is crucial. Wine companies should employ marketing campaigns that portray wine as a versatile, approachable, and inclusive beverage. Utilizing social media platforms and collaborating with influencers can amplify the message and reach a broader audience. 

3. Emphasize Health Benefits:

Wine possesses potential health benefits, particularly in the case of red wine, which contains antioxidants like resveratrol associated with cardiovascular benefits. Emphasizing these health benefits and educating young consumers can counteract the perception that wine is solely an indulgence.

4. Innovation and Variety:

To compete with the vast array of beverages available to Gen Z and Millennials, the wine industry must innovate and offer diverse products. This can involve introducing wine-based cocktails, flavored wines, and limited-edition releases. Additionally, the wine industry must provide alternative packaging. We think EVERY wine producer whose product is meant to be drunk young should offer their wines in cans and boxes. Providing unique and adventurous options can create excitement and generate interest in wine consumption.

5. Engaging Experiences:

Organizing wine tastings, tours, and workshops can provide Gen Z and Millennials with engaging and educational experiences. There needs to be a story behind the product. Something for younger drinkers to connect with. Something for them to feel good about when they are consuming the product.

6. Sustainability and Social Responsibility:

Addressing the growing concern for environmental issues, the wine industry should demonstrate its commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. Supporting local communities and investing in eco-friendly practices can resonate with the younger generations' environmental values. Additionally, the largest wine companies out there have an obligation to lead the way in this front. Veuve, 19 Crimes, LaMarca, Kirkland, Butter, Kendall-Jackson, etc. should all be investing a significant portion of their capital in this and convincing others to do the same.

7. Personalization and Customization:

Young consumers appreciate personalized experiences. Offering wine subscription services tailored to individual tastes or customizable wine labels can appeal to their desire for unique and personalized choices. 

8. Collaborations and Partnerships:

Collaborating with influencers, artists, and local businesses can introduce wine to new audiences. Limited-edition wine collaborations or unique packaging designed by renowned artists can create buzz and appeal to the younger generation's desire for exclusivity.

9. Engaging and simple wine education to create positive shopping experiences

When potential consumers of wine are asked why they don't drink wine, a top response is that "wine is too complicated," and, "We don't know anything about wine so we don't know what to buy." As a response to this, certain wine companies have "dumbed down wine" by creating attractive labeling, removing specific sourcing locations from labels, using cute emojis of fruit and vegetables to translate the tasting notes that can be found in their wines, and really just creating lifestyle brands around a commoditized beverage that happens to be cheaply made wine. While this is a nifty band-aid, LWC believes we are missing the mark. Instead, the wine industry should be accepting the nuances of wine in its entirety, accepting the complications, being proud of wine's lasting history, and finding fun and engaging ways to transfer wine knowledge to younger generations so they can have fun when shopping for a bottle at the supermarket or their neighborhood wine shop. We need to show, without any arrogance or haughtiness, that once a little wine knowledge is gained, we can look at a 1000-bottle store shelve or wine list with excitement rather than dread.

10. Stick with us

LWC is going to change the game we've all been playing with the wine industry. Subscribe to our newsletter, and start getting your wines from us (when our store is open (soon!)). Get a little bit of wine knowledge along the way, and share it with a friend while you are enjoying a bottle of wine. We truly believe that wine is the best beverage there is. We know it's delicious, but what we love more are the conversations, connections, and memories that are always associated with opening a nice bottle of wine. We are going to implement all the solutions above, and trust us, we have big plans for the future. We have our eyes set on the world, but we have to help San Diego first <3 Help us get there!

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