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Introducing Generation Wine

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With fewer younger wine drinkers today than there were in previous decades, it’s never been more important to engage young people with wine to future proof the category.

While Gen Z and Millennials only account for 26% of volume in on-trade wine sales, they make up 50% of all money spent on wine in the on-trade. 

Spending time and money engaging these customers in your venue has better potential to return profit from wine than any other age group. 

With data-backed insights and actionable advice, Generation Wine is our guide to help venues across the UK win over the next generation of wine lovers. 

Generation Wine in the on-trade     

With society and technology changing faster than any other time in history, the gap between the life experiences of older people and their younger counterparts has never felt wider. To win them over in the on-trade, it’s important to consider their unique needs and what they are looking for when they visit your venue.    

The experience is everything  

53% of people between the ages of 18-24 actively use social media to help them decide on where to go for their next on-trade outing and are more than twice as likely to seek experiences that translate into great social media content.  

We suggest:
Introducing wine-centred events with a participatory element, like a wine cocktail masterclass or wine tasting and painting or pottery classes. Think about creating experiences that are visually appealing too, so that your younger customers will want to share it on their social media. 

Something special  

According to PROOF Insight, 75% of younger wine drinkers will go out of their way to seek the best quality wine that they can get within their budget. Wine drinkers under 40 are inclined to drink wine less often but will be more likely to trade up when they do.  

We suggest:
Selecting wines that are suited to the occasions that young people enjoy. Such as a more premium Prosecco to enjoy before heading to a nightclub, or a Provence rosé in an elegant bottle that will stand out on the table during a girls' night out.  

The joy of experimentation    

75% of Gen Z wine drinkers say they like to try new drinks, compared to just 47% of other age groups. Trying something new and discussing it with friends, in person or online, makes an occasion out of the everyday and creates a memorable experience without having to spend more to get it.   

We suggest:
Including a wide range of styles on your wine lists and calling out new and seasonal wines. A list that offers more than just the most familiar styles and regions will appeal to a younger audience. You may even encourage them to spend a little more to try something new and different.  

What do young people want from their wine?   

63% of young wine drinkers don’t class themselves as being ‘very confident’ when choosing wine in the on-trade and young wine drinkers tend to opt for approachable and familiar styles, with packaging that looks great in their photos for social media.  

Approachable styles   

We are more sensitive to taste factors when we’re younger and often have lower tolerance to potentially unpleasant sensations, like bitterness. This feeds into younger consumers’ preferences for wines as well, with data showing that they are more likely to purchase sweet wines with lower acidity and tannin.   

We suggest:
Spotlighting your wines that are more approachable in style or that have some residual or fruit sweetness, like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or German Riesling. These will likely appeal to your young customers over more intense wines.

Bigger is better  

Younger wine drinkers are more likely to drink wine to celebrate special occasions. Magnums and other large formats naturally bring a sense of occasion and there is nothing more celebratory than popping the cork on a large bottle of sparkling wine or champagne Not to mention that they look fabulous on a table and are totally “Instagrammable.” 

We suggest:
Making sure any magnums really pop on your wine list. For additional drama, consider pouring by the glass sparkling wine or rosé from a magnum. It’s bound to entice customers to say; ‘I want what they are drinking!’.

Packed with style  

41% of younger consumers say they can’t resist fancy packaging, compared to just 21% of other age groups. Offering wines with a playful, quirky label can command more attention for a younger generation of wine drinkers. 

We suggest:
Selecting wines for your list that have striking labels and bottle design. Try to keep some of the more stylish bottles somewhere visible, such as on or behind the bar, to catch your drinker’s eye and encourage curiosity.

Our top tips for appealing to Gen Z and Millennial wine lovers   

  1. Focus on the experience, giving them something they’ll be excited to share on social media and can’t recreate at home   
  2. Think about how the wines in your list tie into occasions that young people enjoy   
  3. Make sure your list offers lots of variation in style and consider introducing a rotating list of seasonal wines that are available for a short time only   
  4. Focus on styles that are approachable and appeal to younger palates   
  5. Consider offering sparkling wine or rose magnums that can be shared among friends for any celebration. 
  6. Look for wines that are visually exciting with unusual and stylish packaging 


About the author

Gabrielle Hutson

Gab found a love for wine (and spirits and beer and coffee!) during her years on the hospitality scene around Australia. The desire to dip her toes into a bigger wine and hospitality industry drove her to London and today she writes, reads and talks non-stop about wine for Matthew Clark's website and social channels.