WMC: "Millennials Consume 42% of all wine in America"
The Wine Market Council presented their annual 2016 roadshow in New York in January, and using the above slide announced with fanfare that Millennials are now the largest wine drinking population in America, consuming 42% of all wine and surpassing the boomers with 30% of total consumption. They also said Millennials were consuming 160 million cases compared to 114 million cases consumed for boomers (below right chart).
To many of us in the business the facts appeared grossly exaggerated, but the media ran with the story because it was such a senstational headline. The long-awaited ascendance of the millennial had finally come we were told, and the articles proclaiming the fact hit the wires in waves:
- Millennials Top U.S. in Wine Consumption (CBS News)
- Millennials Come out on Top in U.S Wine Consumption (S.F. Chronicle)
WMC: "Millennials and Boomers Consume the Same Amount of Wine."
"Boomers and Millennials today account for nearly the same amount of wine consumption and Millennials will soon account for decidedly more consumption."
So which statement should we believe? Are millennials the largest consuming cohort, or are they equal to boomers in consumption? The answer is: Nobody knows.
Rather than retracting the earlier results released in NY in January and providing some clarity, the WMC unbelievably just published different findings and removed the other slides in question. I don't know why they have taken this path. Maybe they were hoping nobody would notice their gaffe and they could just continue on?
Sadly that is the case as of this moment. Nobody noticed the mistake, but the consequences will be felt by the industry the WMC serves because to this day we are still seeing articles published referencing the earlier incorrect findings:
- Low-Lux Wines Draw in Millennial Consumers (CNBC - The Street.com)
Why Does it Matter if the Data are a Little Off?
It matters because you can hear and see Tom Steffanci, president of Deutch Family Wine & Spirits reciting the bogus WMC consumption facts as support for his current strategy in this video (link). I don't know him, but I think Tom would care deeply about being put in the position of reciting bad information to the press.
It matters because two weeks ago a prospect presented a deck to me and wanted me to opine on his strategy for a product. He was targeting millennials and had raised millions of dollars from others leaning on the fact from the WMC that 42% of wine consumption is now from millennials. I doubt the investors in this case would be too happy reading this post.
Reality: Millennials Average About 15% of Consumption, Not 42%
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