The Annual Report from Silicon Valley Bank on the state of the U.S. wine industry spells trouble for Big Wine in the long-term.
In 2020, wine sales are reported to have decreased by about 2%. Wine has remained a product used by the baby boomer generation. But younger generations, including millennials and after, are moving away from wine. The pandemic has accelerated this trend.
The oldest in the millennial generation are turning 40 this year. While their disposable incomes grow, they are increasingly ditching the booze, especially wine.
Sober curious movement and changing alcohol norms
The growing sober curious movement as well as movements such as Dry January and Sober October are creating a younger generation who are more mindful about what they consume.
Alcohol-free months such as Dry January are an eye opener for most people who participate in such a challenge. It gives participants the time to evaluate the role alcohol plays in their lives, community and society and to reflect about alcohol’s place. Most people discover the benefits of going alcohol-free and continue to cut back or go sober for life. The Dry January campaign which started in the UK has spread across many countries in the western world, including the United States (U.S.), Switzerland, France, Norway, Iceland and other Scandinavian countries.
Supportive communities have popped up surrounding these alcohol-free months and sober movements, which help people expand their choices and move away from alcohol. One such community is Sober Girl Society launched by Millie Gooch. Another community is Hello Sunday Morning, an Australian nonprofit organization.
Furthermore, people are more aware of the harms caused by the alcohol industry. More and more research shows there is no safe level for alcohol use, especially for non-communicable diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Young generations move away from alcohol products and Big Wine doesn’t fit in with new trends
Younger generations are anyway moving away from alcohol. As Movendi International has reported, young people are undoing the pervasive and harmful alcohol norm the world over. In doing so a wider cultural shift is being created towards better health, well-being and better choices for the planet. And Big Wine just doesn’t fit in with this change.
Wine is still marketed as a luxury product with Chateaus, villas and trophy cult wines that show off privilege, entitlement and wealth. While this might be still appealing for baby boomers, it is not what younger generations value and prioritize. Young people are valuing experineces more than status. They value environmental protection and social responsibility and look for companies with similar values. And Big Wine just does not relate to those values.
Human rights abuses of wine industry
In fact, Big Wine is very far from social responsibility. An Oxfam from September last year exposed the human rights abuses of the wine industry in Italy, one of the biggest wine exporters in the world.
Among the most serious human rights violations found were forced labor, low wages, excessive working hours, health and safety risks in vineyards and wineries and lack of access to remedial action. Big Wine has an appalling track record of Human Rights abuses. And young people don’t want to associate with such an industry.
While Big Wine’s place is slipping away. Sober bars and alcohol-free businesses are becoming a booming business model the world over. There is high potential for alcohol-free beverage companies including for alcohol-free wine since their values align with the values and lifestyles of young people.