What Wine Needs: Beyonce, Brad Pitt and Scorsese

Gallop reports that when asked if they prefer to drink beer, wine or spirits, Americans name beer and wine equally as often. This has been interpreted to mean that wine is now as popular as beer in America. But what’s really interesting about this new poll is that it demonstrates that the number of Americans that name wine as their favorite drink has stayed static for over a decade with little or no growth. Consider the following graph:


Between 1992 and 2000, Wine as a favorite jumped 7 points in the annual poll. But since then, with the exception of one weird spike in 2005, the number of Americans naming wine as their favorite drink has stayed pretty much the same. I the mean time, Beer as a favorite drink has been on a steady decline and appears to still be in decline. Spirits, since 1992 has stayed almost flat.

I attribute the initial increase in Americans naming wine as their favorite (1992 to 2000) to the publicity surrounding the French Paradox, which “60 Minutes reported on in 1990 and told Americans, “you’ll be healthier if you drink more wine.” And I don’t think it is a coincidence that the weird spike for wine in 2005 came on the heels of the popular movie “Sideways”.

In other words, the increases in the general popularity of wine has largely been a result of….wait for it…..POPULAR CULTURE phenomena.

Consider the recent huge increase in the popularity of Moscato. It’s no secret that much of its success has been a result of the publicizing of its merits by hip hop stars drinking it and promoting it.

For those that would like to see the popularity of wine increase, doesn’t this beg the question, how do we get wine represented more often within popular culture and especially the pop culture media??

It’s also notable that over the past four years, wine has seen a noticeable increase in popularity among those aged 18 -34, while beer as a favorite among this age group has plummeted.


This also suggests another reason to find ways to get wine more often represented (positively) within pop culture since the younger one is, the more likely they are influenced by pop culture.

So, how do you do this in a proactive fashion?

1. Finance and Create A Generic Ad Campaign for Wine
VERY Costly. That’s one of the problems. The other problems is finding a way to get the entire industry (all of whom will benefit despite the fact that it will be inexperienced and low price drinkers who will respond) to pony up the cash. This is virtually impossible. Therefore, it would probably need to be the 10 largest American producers and largest importers in the U.S. that would need to come together to finance a campaign.

2. Product Placement
Some wineries already engage in this form of marketing, but not many. The key here, however, is not merely to have a bottle of wine poured during a scene in a TV series or movie with the label showing, but rather pay to have wine be an important part of a segment of the series or movie. Again, costly, but if the wine is integrated smartly, positively and put in the hands of someone well know, it could be very effective.

3. Make Wine The Focus of a Film or TV Series or Documentary
Again, expensive but also very complex. We need a really good script. How often does a good script focused on wine appear? However, this path, in my view, could by far have the greatest impact. Perhaps there is a book out there already that focuses on wine that has the potential to be turned into a film.

4. Discover that Wine Cures Cancer and the Common Cold
Pretty unlikely.

This is all fun to think about, but it’s truly series business. Consider the implications of 50% of Americans instead of 35% of Americans naming wine as their favorite drink? The implications can be counted in the $billions.



7 Responses

  1. Ron Marsilio - August 6, 2013

    Interesting statistics Tom. When looking at the age group represented on the graph, 18-24, one has to wonder that if a beverage producer found a way to combine an energy drink and wine, I think sales will take off. In all seriousness though, all of your suggestions for the wine industry are smart and very likely to increase sales, and I think all of them should be employed to a certain degree. The number 4 suggestion about curing cancer and the common cold, as tongue-in-cheek as it is does illustrate the need to reiterate the health benefits of wine. I think the message has faded a little since the days of the “60 Minutes” French Paradox piece. It needs a booster shot from the main stream media, not just in health and fitness venues. I know, coming from the retail side of the business, when the benefits of health are emphasized in the marketing of certain wines the sales are very impressive. That message just needs to be reinforced to drinkers of hard liquor and beer to get them to see the wisdom of switching to a complex and thought provoking beverage that will allow them to live to 103.

  2. Todd - VT Wine Media - August 6, 2013

    This missing part of this representation, and one that I think will continue to magnify in its effect, is the growing hard cider segment. I don’t have data, but my anecdotal experience on the streets and at recent festivals, tells me that this same 21 (ahem) – 34 YO demographic is vocally psyched about them apples. This trend is sure to bite into beer, as well as encumber the potential for growth in wine consumption, because of cider’s crossover appeal. Best hope the cider houses don’t get to your play book first.

    That said, I think that your 2nd & 3rd tactics have real potential for cultural impact, and I made a failed prediction a couple of years that it would have happened already:
    I think that if some clever writers got together ( and were given a budget for something other than reality TV crap), folks could be ready for an upbeat show that takes place in a wine bar. If it could take some formula guidance from a classic like “Cheers”, you might have something.

    • Sarah - August 6, 2013

      I second this. Being in this age group, I am seeing (and drinking) firsthand the rise in hard cider consumption. But, I feel like it must be included in either the beer or liquor numbers simply because of the lack of variety that currently exists. All I have seen in the stores and at the bars are the Angry Orchard and Woodchuck brands. There is no popular craft cider market. The same goes for Mead.

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