Millennial drinkers and their behaviours

by | Jun 30, 2017 | Business and Marketing

Are Millennials receiving to much attention in marketing decisions? Or should we take notice when it comes to their likes and dislikes?

Millennials are people born between 1981 and 1995, which means that they are currently 21-35 years old. The previous demographic groups are Gen X (1961-1980, aged 36-55) and Boomers (1945-1960, aged 56-71).

In some behaviours, like travel decisions and media consumption, Millennials don’t seem that unique. But research by Wine Intelligence has recognised three macro-trends consisting of different behaviours that can provide a more nuanced picture:


Exclude (mainly in food and drink) when naturally-occurring substances like calories or gluten are removed, particularly from snacks.

Enhance – when ingredients are added in, for example Anti-aGin – a gin infused with drinkable collagen and other botanical ingredients

Mindfulness – understanding the importance of mental well-being.


Obsession – producers, suppliers and brand owners dedicated and obsessive about their product. They tend to pursue excellence in a specialised area. One example is a fast food restaurant in California that only sells 11 different types of bacon. There are egg restaurants, and lasagne restaurants. This pertains to people or businesses who are brilliant at one thing in a world of massively confusing complication and choice.

Fusion – this is about merging of product categories and services to bring diverse types and styles together. For example, there is a white chocolate Kit Kat fused with sake that is sold in Japan. People love novelty.

Activate – this is a way of engaging and activating the target audience beyond the purchase experience. An example would be the Colombia outdoor sporting goods company, who have added extra uses to the price tag, such as a metal tag that turns into a water purifier, a fishing hook, or a mini tool.


Exchange – a good example of this is e-neighbour, where a neighbour can take your parcel for $2.50. This creates mini-hubs of individuals who share resources and exchange services.

Reduce – reducing waste and packaging e.g the Dutch fruit supplier whose sweet potatoes get their branding and packaging simply by being stamped with edible ink.

Community – how we interact with those around us. In craft beer there was an initiative called ‘cream of the craft’ where for a week 50 breweries made beer using an identical recipe.


Effortless – technology helps us to do more things with less effort. Amazon Go are trialling a store in Seattle where an app recognises your movements. You simply pick your items and walk out, and you are automatically billed for them.

Instant – in some ways, this is in opposition to ‘reduce’. An example would be an instant ice tray with six pre-filled sections and a foil top, for those who find filling an ice tray from the sink too much of a chore.

Individual – this is having and making products ourselves, and an example would be a store where you can make your own individualized blended drink or food item. As it turns out, Millennials attach much more importance to ‘individual’ and ‘activate’ than to ‘mindfulness’ and ‘community’. This tendency to be more hedonistic can however be ascribed to their youth. People in their 20s have different priorities.

But what is important when it comes to wine? First, some interesting numbers:

27 million – the number of Millennial regular wine drinkers in the USA (out of a total of 95 million). 24 million – the number of Millennial regular wine drinkers in China (out of 48 million).

Here is how Millennials relate to the different trends:

Mindfulness. They associate wine with: relax, reward, authentic, genuine, special, treat; It isn’t about high energy, it’s about sharing, caring and expertise. Being authentic and natural matters.

Obsession. They value artisanship and quality, and want retailers or sommeliers to be highly specialised. They love it when people say ‘let me guide you here because I am really good at this’.

Fusion. Mix it up. Put ice cubes in wine, add elderflower cordial – this is how real people think about wine. Millennials like a bit of a challenge and a point of difference.

Enhance. Add it in. Extra protein, a few minerals: who knows what supplements or enhancements you can include.

Activate. How can you include me? What do you activate?

Wine Intelligence did a wine label study in Australia, with a range of stylised labels ranging from ‘Cartoon Retro’ through to ‘Prestigious’. The Millennials didn’t find the most distinctive labels appealing. They want their wine to look like wine; they want to trust it. This is seen in multiple markets with different age groups. ‘Maybe there is a myth that our Millennials love things that are cool, funky and trendy.

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