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Why Young People Aren’t Drinking (as much)

Over the last few years, it has been reported that young people have been drinking less than they used to. With the proportion of 16-24 year-olds not drinking alcohol increasing from 18% in 2005 to 29% in 2015, and the total number of alcohol drinkers decreasing by almost 5% since 2000, it almost seems that sobriety is becoming a trend.

So, why aren’t they drinking as much?

1. The Wellness Trend

With buzzwords like “self-care” and “sober-curious” prevailing on social media, it is clear that there has been a change in the perception of alcohol. Additionally, the growing gym-culture prevalence on these platforms may further contribute to this demonisation of alcohol. It is important to highlight that these movements are now leaning more towards moderation, having perhaps started with a stricter abstinence approach. The Wellness Trend also encourages people to perform at their highest level of productivity consistently, leading to a turn away from days stuck in bed with a hangover. In accordance with this, 45% of Millenials in America have said that they will only drink on the weekends. Therefore, young people seem to be much more considered in their drinking habits than their boomer counterparts, but most are not fully sober.

2. Expense

Drinking is expensive. With young people being more likely than older generations to be in debt, the cost of a glass of wine is another reason for them to be more considerate with their drinking. However, young people do seem happy to splurge with their money, particularly on experiences rather than material items. For example, UK Millenials spend an average of £2573.56 per year on socialising, eating out, takeaways and daily treats. And so the price of the wine may not be the most pressing issue for them, perhaps what is more important is the environment in which they purchase the drink.

3. The Digital Age

As well as giving birth to alcohol-stigmatising trends (above), the internet - and social media specifically - has created a much more exposed environment for the individual. Millenials may not want to drink on weekdays because they want to be productive at work the next day, but equally it is possible that they might want to drink, yet feel like they can’t because it is much more likely that their co-workers and/or boss will find out via social media. Of course, this might be acceptable for a glass of wine, but perhaps not for a wild night out!

What does this mean for the wine industry?

The fact that younger generations are drinking less could be seen as a threat to the wine industry. However, despite this seemingly negative fact the new culture around drinking could potentially open up some doors for the sector, allowing for innovation and expansion. Although attempts to combine the wine industry and the wellness trend have not been overly popular, with brands such as Avaline and Good Clean Wine being accused of jumping on the bandwagon with some particularly creative marketing claims, they show the possibility for the expansion of the industry. As mentioned above, the new emphasis on moderation within the trend encourages people to have a drink if they want to, with some arguing that a glass of wine is actually part of their ‘self-care’ routine. For these reasons, the wine industry isn’t in direct opposition with the trend, as one might have originally thought. In fact, perhaps people drinking in moderation rather than excess will lead to an increase in the sales of quality, more expensive wines over those that are simply produced in high quantities. Thus, more appreciation for what they are drinking. If people are treating themselves to just one or two glasses, they’re more likely to spend a bit more on them. Moreover, young people seem to be more inclined to spend money on a drink if it adds to their experience, and so there is certainly a strong market for wine tastings and events in the future, which are often catalysts for a person finding their passion for wine. Ultimately, although this trend may seem worrying, young people are still drinking. The wine industry may be able to recruit more professionals through increased tasting experiences, sell more high quality wine and thrive in new, interesting ways.



Entrepreneur Europe

Tipsy Bartender

The Guardian

The Washington Post

The Spirits Business

World Health Organisation

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