Talkin’ ‘bout my (wine consuming) generation

By: Dr. Kathy Kelley and Jen Zelinskie 

As in the past, we would like to share more of the data that we collected from Mid-Atlantic wine consumers who participated in our surveys funded by the USDA Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program. 

The data presented in this post were collected 30 November to 1 December 2015 (our third survey) through a 15-minute internet survey, administered to Survey Sampling International, LLC (Shelton, CT) panelists who were: age 21 and older; resided in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania; not a member of the wine industry, and who drank and purchased wine at least a few times a year.  Of the panelists who attempted the survey, 847 qualified and completed the questionnaire. 

In our February blog post,, we provided some data:

  • Percent of participants in each of the targeted states who were super core, core, and marginal wine consumers,
  • wine purchasing frequency of super core, core, and marginal wine consumers, and
  • percent of participants in each of our five age ranges (e.g. 21 to 24, 25 to 34) who were super core, core, and marginal wine consumers.

Many reports, specific to the wine industry and others, describe research outcomes based on U.S. generations (e.g. Millennial, Generation X).  One thing that makes reporting generational data a little difficult; however, is that generational research groups can and do: 1) call certain generations by a different name or 2) the have different theories as to when a generation started and when it ended.    

For our analysis, we segmented our data based on generations defined by the Pew Research Center (  Below is a list of the generations, along with the corresponding years of birth and age ranges in 2015:

  • The Millennial Generation, born between 1981 to 1997, age 18 to 34
  • Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980, age 35 to 50
  • The Baby Boom Generation, born between 1946 and 1964, age 51 to 69
  • The Silent Generation, born between 1928 and 1945, age 70 to 87
  • The Greatest Generation, born before 1928, age 88 to 100

The age ranges for these five generations varies between 12 and 18 years which, as you may well know, has encouraged some demographers to split both The Millennial Generation and The Baby Boomer generations into two additional groups.  

In the late 1990’s, Jonathan Pontell, a popular culture expert, suggested that span of the Baby Boom Generation was much too vast.  He felt that there were several differences between the younger group and their older brothers and sisters in lifestyle and mindset (  Hence, he suggested that the younger half of the Baby Boomers would best be described as Generation Jones.  The name was chosen as “this generation has a “Jones,” or longing, for its own identity and or the world it was promised as children by never received” (  While members of this “new” generation is said to have been born between 1954 and 1965, we have adjusted the time period to end in 1964 to better correspond with the well-recognized end date for The Baby Boomer Generation. 

In 2012, the Wine Marketing Council segmented consumer survey responses for Millennials of legal drinking age into two groups: 1) Younger Millennials (age 21 to 25) and Older Millennials (age 26 to 34) ( In 2015 this generation was still divided into those 21 to 25 years of age and 26 to 34 years of age. 

What was the generational makeup of our participants?  As shown in the graph, below, aside from the Silent and Greatest Generations (which we combined as we only had two participants who would be classified as members of the Greatest Generations, those born before 1928), we had a fairly nice distribution of participants in each of the “traditional” generations:

  • The Millennial Generation: 34.7%
    • 22.1% were Older Millennials
    • 13.6% were Younger Millennials
  • Generation X: 27.3%
  • The Baby Boom Generation: 28.8%
    • 15.3% were Baby Boomers
    • 13.5% were Generation Jones
  • The Silent & Greatest Generations: 8.2%

Image 1

We are sure, like the research team, one of your top questions is whether the generations differ in wine consumption frequency. To answer this question, participants were segmented into the following three categories:

  • super core, those who consumed wine daily to a few times a week;
  • core, those who consumed wine about once a week, and
  • marginal, those who consumed wine less frequently (Wine Market Council, 2009).

Image 2

Overall, approximately half of each generation (range of 47.0 to 55.1%) were super core wine consumers, and between 17.0 and 23.7% were core and between 24.3 and 38.8% were marginal.  Based on statistical analysis, there are no differences in wine consumption frequencies based on generation.  For our data – the distribution of super core wine drinkers is the same across the six generations.

What about the percent of participants in each generation who have visited a winery tasting room located in at least one of the targeted states?  Our data shows that at least half of participants in each generation responded that they did visit these tasting rooms, with fewer Younger Millennials (50.4%) visiting than Generation Jones (70.2%) participants.

While this is just one data point, we are analyzing data to learn whether they visited these tasting rooms between November 2014 and 2015, or if it was before this time period.  In addition, a future blog post will describe whether these consumers visited a tasting room in just one state or multiple states, and their experiences in the facilities.

Another question you might have is whether one generation was more likely to drink wine from one of the three targeted states than other generations.  First, we need to learn what percent of participants in each generation resided in each state.  As you can see, below, a greater percent of participants resided in New York, followed by Pennsylvania, and then New Jersey.  But, this could be expected as the number of consumers residing in New York is greater than the population of Pennsylvania and New Jersey (in 2015, New York accounted for approximately 6.28% of the total U.S. population, Pennsylvania, 4.11%; and New Jersey, 2.85%; 

Image 4

So, have our participants purchased wine produced in their state?  Looking at the three images below, you can learn what percent of each generation responded that they purchased wine that was produced in their state for: 1) “everyday” consumption in their home and 2) to be consumed during special occasions and/or when entertaining in their own home.

Image 5Image 6Image 7

As you can see, the trend for purchasing both everyday wine and wine for special occasions and/or when entertaining for New Jersey and Pennsylvania participants declines slightly as we move from younger to more mature generations.  For New York, the trend is not as defined.  While purchasing is 43.6 and 46.0%, respectively, for Younger Millennials related to purchasing everyday wine and wine purchased for special occasions/entertaining, half or more of the participants in each of the other generations purchased wine for these two instances.   

In addition to asking this question in the survey, we have asked others to better understand preferences and perceptions of wine produced in each state.  These responses will be shared in future blog posts.  

As we have mentioned in this blog in the past, analyzing data based on participant demographics is a way to learn about differences between groups (e.g. gender, state of residence); however, it is important to analyze the data based on attitudes and behaviors. 

While much is written about how Younger Millennials and Older Millennials differ in regards to wine purchases, it is just as important to learn, for example, the likelihood of our super core wine consumers to purchase and consume wine made in the three targeted states, and then “who” they are demographically. 



Wine Market Council. 2009. Snapshot Report: Super Core Wine Drinkers. Available at: (accessed 24 August 2014).

Research & Jennifer Zelinskie’s Thesis Advisory Team:

  • Jeffrey Hyde, Professor, Agricultural Economics, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Denise Gardner, Extension Enologist, Department of Food Science, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Brad Rickard, Assistant Professor, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University
  • Ramu Govindasamy, Professor, Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, Rutgers University
  • Karl Storchmann, Clinical Professor, Economics Department, New York University; Managing Editor, Journal of Wine Economics
  • Michela Centinari, Assistant Professor of Viticulture, Departemnt of Plant Science, The Pennsylvania State University

The project “Developing Wine Marketing Strategies for the Mid-Atlantic Region” (GRANT 11091317) is being funded by a USDA Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program grant, whose goal is “to assist in exploring new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products and to encourage research and innovation aimed at improving the efficiency and performance of the marketing system.”  For more information about the program, visit




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