84 Million U.S. Wine Drinkers Fit Into Six Wine-Buying Segments

Food & Drink

Buying wine in a supermarketGetty

Wine retailing goes on twelve months out of each year, but the real money comes to the shop between November and December. Wanting to make the most of the other ten months, it behooves a retail wine shop buyer to get to know the market, and for that there’s Wine Intelligence, an international team of wine industry analysts, communications experts and consultants. 

In US Portraits 2018, its sixth portrait, Wine Intelligence spells out who buys wine in the U.S. today, how much of it and why. The U.S. remains the “Holy Grail” for global wine marketers, and rightly so. US Portraits 2018 claims at 84 million regular wine drinkers, the U.S. wine market is the “most populous wine market” on the planet.

According to the latest report, U.S. wine consumption is segmented into six general consumer compartments .

When the 2016 US Portrait was released, the U.S. was the largest wine market then too, and while the report listed six segments of the wine-buying public, their habits were different from the six segments today—as were most of their identity tags. Back then, they were: Experienced Explorers; Millennial Treaters; Premium Brand Suburbans; Bargain Hunters; Senior Sippers. Today, the six segments break out this way: Engaged Explorers; Premium Brand Suburbans; Contented Treaters; Social Newbies; Senior Bargain Hunters; Kitchen Casuals.

Representing 10% of wine consumers, Engaged Explorers are identified as the younger population of wine buyers. These are the most frequent buyers and they spend the most on high-priced wines than any in the list of six. They are called explorers because they drink many wine styles, from many countries and regions.

At 19% of wine consumers, Premium Brand Suburbans are middle to older age. They spend much less on a bottle of wine than most wine consumers and they are hard wired into staying with wines and brands they know, and members in this group happen to know more about wine than any in the five other segments.

Contented Treaters make up 17% of wine buyers. Like the “Suburbans” this segment comprises middle to older aged, but this group is affluent; they spend up, but they also don’t consume nearly as much wine as their counterparts. They go for a broad range of wines and are interested in a wine’s origin.

The youngest segment, Social Newbies, accounts for 14% of wine buyers. On average, members of this group consume wine twice a week. Their spending is right in the middle between high and low spenders. Their wine knowledge is limited so they rely on recommendations, which means they can be a fickle market.

At 26% the Senior Bargain Hunters are the largest segment of the U.S. wine buying public. They are among the oldest of buyers and their buying frequency is at the bottom of the six segments. Members in this group are quite knowledgeable, yet their focus on wine styles and brands is narrow—value is important to them.

Kitchen Casuals are also among the oldest group of buyers. This segment represents 14% of the buying market, and includes largely infrequent wine drinkers. They are not known for going to bars and restaurants to consume wine, and they show a limited interest in switching from wines they already know. 

Quantitative data for US Portrait 2018 was collected online in October 2017, January 2018 and March 2018 from 12,632 (49% male/51% female) people who consume wine at least once a month on and off premise. Nine U.S. regions were represented in the survey. A qualitative focus group sampling of 20 interviews were conducted by phone.

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