Tag Archive | demographics

Food, flavor, and wine consumer trends 2019

By Dr. Kathy Kelley, Professor of Horticultural Marketing and Business Management

While food and beverage trends are released throughout the year, it seems as though a bulk of the industry and consumer trend reports are released during the winter.  In recognition of these reports and the insights and guidance they offer, I have summarized some of the more prevalent food trends and sources that concentrate specifically on the wine industry.  

Food trends: What we will (likely) be eating in 2019  

As we have talked about in past blogs, it is important to have a meaningful conversation with consumers who visit your tasting room or who you communicate with through social media.  Whether it be the starting a conversation, promoting a particular wine, or having a topic for an Instagram post, knowing a bit about current food trends can help you suggest wines that will pair with these important and emerging flavors and cuisines.     

Emerging international fare   

Pertaining to interest in specific international cuisines, adults age 18 to 34 and 35 to 54 years, were much less likely to consume Italian and Chinese foods than consumers age 55 and older.  This is the case whether they are dining at a restaurant, preparing meals at home, and/or when purchasing packaged food from food stores.  The interest in international flavors among consumers age 18 to 44 years is “because they like trying new things” (Failla, 2019).    

So, what is expected to interest consumers in 2019?  Comax Flavors, a “world leader in creating leading edge flavor technology and innovation for the food and beverage industry” uses market research to gain consumer insights to better predict potential demand.  Recently, they identified “A Passage to India,” which “capitalizes on the growing younger demographics’ attraction to multicultural flavors,” and “Steeped in Culture” that includes “high-impact fermented and pickled flavors” as two noteworthy trends for 2019 (Foodingredientsfirst.com, 2018).    

In addition to matching wines to complement individual spices used in Indian recipes (e.g., cardamom, coriander, curry, and garam masala), “Indian-inspired flavors,” like cardamom mocha, maple cumin, and maple curry spice blends may also be important flavors in 2019 (Foodingredientsfirst.com, 2018).  Interest in spice blends appears to appeal to U.S. consumers as the number of consumers who “prefer foods cooked with lots of spices” increased from 41.1% in 2013 to 44.1% in 2018 (Failla, 2019).    

Flavor profiles    

Over the past few years, umami has gained attention within the food industry.  Umami’s “unctuous, savory flavor is presented in high-glutamate foods like tomatoes, meat, and soy” (Mintel, 2018).  Another, koji mold, “a mold spore that typically ferments miso and soy sauce” is used on meats give “a more fermented taste” (Foodbusinessnews.net, N.d.).    

But another lesser-known taste sensation is kokumi.  Mintel’s 2018 US Flavor Trends report identifies kokumi as a food trend on the “fringe,” which is poised, “in the next five years,” to become more popular.  The “taste concept is associated with flavors achieved by slow-cooking, aging, and ripening.”    

Vegan and plant-based diets  

No longer a fad, according to an article published by The Economist, a quarter of U.S. Millennials between ages 25 and 34 claims to be vegetarians or vegans (Parker, 2018).  Consumers may choose to become vegan to lose weight, lower their blood sugar, and try to prevent diseases (Matthews, 2018).    

Whatever the reason, several articles cite a study conducted by GlobalData, which reports that between 2014 and 2017, the number of Americans who indicated they were vegans increase by 600% (Matthews, 2018).  To meet demand, school districts and fast food restaurants are offering vegan options on their menus (Matthews, 2018).    

There is often some confusion as to how vegans differ from vegetarians.  While vegetarians may eat dairy products and eggs, vegans do not eat or use animal products such as leather and fur. But those are not the only plant-based/plant-forward diets that consumers plan their meals around.  The flexitarian trend, for instance, still resonates with today’s consumer.  A flexitarian diet includes mostly plant-based foods but incorporates animable products and meat in moderation (Streit, 2018).    

The importance of plant-central meals goes beyond appealing to consumers based on their food choice philosophy, rather a food tend that has been suggested by several sources will focus on “hearty vegetables” such as cassava, Japanese yams, parsnips, jicama, and white potato (Foodbusinessnews.net, N.d.).    

Not only is there a need for the perfect pairing with plant-based cuisine, but there are a fair number of consumer-focused websites and articles that are educating vegans, vegetarians, etc. about fining agents used in the winemaking process.   An article published by Wine Enthusiast presented the various fining agents and indicated which were vegetarian (e.g., egg whites, casein), vegetarian and vegan (e.g., Poly-vinyl-poly-pyrrolidone, bentonite), and neither vegan nor vegetarian (e.g., chitosan, isinglass) (Krebiehl, 2018).  The author also indicated that some vegans are even investigating whether wine grapes are grown using animal-based fertilizers such as bone meal or fish emulsion.   

U.K. retailer Majestic Wine has added symbols to their website (Majestic.co.uk) to alert customers selecting wine as to which ones are vegan (VE) and vegetarian (V).  Other retailers in certain European countries are also subscribing to this strategy.      

One way or another, whether it is reproducing restaurant meals at home, purchasing prepared food from supermarkets, or subscribing to meal delivery services (Reiter, 2018), consumers are eating at home more – and they need to know what wine to purchase and serve with these flavors.  Take the opportunity to familiarize yourself with prominent trends, listen to your customers, and provide recommendations that will help them have the best culinary experience possible.    

Wine consumer demographics and trends  

U.S. generations   

Before I describe who is drinking wine in 2019 and what has/is expected for this new year, here is a brief primer on U.S. generations, the birth years that define them, and the percentage of U.S. population in each.   

While there are slight differences in the years that mark the beginning/ending for each generation, according to the PEW Research Center (Dimock, 2019), the years that define them are below.   

Pertaining to the percentage of consumers in each generation.  Data published in the first-quarter of 2017 (Nielsen, 2017) described the percentage of consumers in each generation.  

How the generations are impacting the wine industry   

Mintel’s most recent Wine Report (Mintel, 2018) indicates that 55% of U.S. adults, age 22 and older, who participated in the September 2018 survey, drink wine.  This 55% includes a combination of those who drank wine “most often” (25%) and those who drank wine, but not as often as other beverages (30%).  The percentage of wine consumers was slightly lower than the percentage of beer drinkers (57%) but higher than consumers who drink white spirits (42%), dark spirits (35%), and other alcoholic beverages.  

As in the past, a fair amount of attention (and hope) is placed on Millennials becoming high frequency/high volume wine consumers.  According to an article published on BeverageDaily.com, about 28% of adult Millennials indicated that they “drink wine on a daily basis” (Newhart, 2019).  

Each January, the Silicon Valley Bank Wine Division releases its State of the Wine Industry (McMillan, 2019). The report provides data on wine-consumer demographics, purchasing and consumption trends, winery owner confidence statistics, the economy, consumer sentiment, and similar.  The Millennial generation, because of its size and that all members are of legal drinking age, is the basis for much of the analysis of the health of the industry.  

As with the Beveragedaily.com article, one major point presented in the Silicon Valley Bank wine Divis report focuses on the Millennial generation’s wine consumption.  According to the author, while Millennials “hold slightly higher consumption shares in the $8-$11 bottle price points” they “aren’t engaging with wine as hoped.  They lack financial capacity, currently prefer premium spirits and craft beers, and have been slow getting into careers” (McMillan, 2019).   

It would be in the industry’s best interest to heed this information and not ignore other generations who are drinking more wine and spending more per bottle.  For example, during the period of 2015 to 2018, Millennials accounted for 16 to 17% of U.S. winery sales, while sales for the smaller Generation X cohort increased from 32 to 34%.  Winery sales for Boomers held steady at 40% for the four-year period. Boomers also account for a greater percentage of premium wine sales (McMillan, 2019).        

Upcoming blog posts will focus on alcohol product trends, consumer demographics, and strategies to consider for utilizing these data.    


Barth, J. 2018. How we will drink wine in 2019: Trends according to winemakers and pros. December 13, 2018 https://www.forbes.com/sites/jillbarth/2018/12/13/how-we-will-drink-wine-in-2019-trends-according-to-winemakers-and-pros/#24b429123a9c 

Dimock, M. 2019. Defining generations: Where Millennials end and Generation Z begins.   http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/01/17/where-millennials-end-and-generation-z-begins/ 

Failla, J. 2019. International Food Trends US, January 2019.  Mintel. 

FoodBusinessNews.net. N.d. Ten cutting-edge culinary trends in 2019.  https://www.foodbusinessnews.net/media/photos/4009-ten-cutting-edge-culinary-trends-in-2019 

Foodingredientsfirst.com. 2018. Multicultural and pickled tastes among 2019 flavor trends tipped by Comax. https://www.foodingredientsfirst.com/news/multicultural-and-pickled-tastes-among-flavor-trends-tipped-by-comax-for-2019.html 

Krebiehl, A. 2018. Is wine vegetarian, vegan or neither? WineEnthusiast. https://www.winemag.com/2018/05/09/vegetarian-vegan-wine/ 

Matthews, R. 2018. The vegan trend: Why so many people are changing their diets.  https://chicagodefender.com/2018/05/03/the-vegan-trend-why-so-many-people-are-changing-their-diets/ 

McmIllan, R. 2019. State of the wine industry report 2019. Silicon Valley Bank wine Division. https://www.svb.com/globalassets/library/images/content/trends_and_insights/reports/wine_report/svb-2019-wine-report 

Mintel. 2018. 2018 US Flavor Trends. The report, and other resources, can be downloaded by accessing this website: http://www.mintel.com/us-flavor-trends 

Newhart, B. 2019. State of the industry: What’s to come for alcohol for in 2019.  https://www.beveragedaily.com/Article/2019/01/03/State-of-the-industry-What-s-to-come-for-alcohol-in-2019 

Nielsen. 2017. The Nielsen U.S. total audience report: Q1 2017. https://www.nielsen.com/be/en/insights/reports/2017/the-nielsen-total-audience-report-q1-2017.html 

O’Brien Coffey, J. 2017. Five reasons to drink spiked sparkling water. Forbes.com https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeanneobriencoffey/2017/08/14/five-reasons-to-drink-spiked-seltzer-now/#26799bbc415e 

Parker, J. 2018. The year of the vegan. The Economist.  https://worldin2019.economist.com/theyearofthevegan?utm_source=412&utm_medium=COM 

Reiter, A. 2018. Americans are cooking more meals at home, eating out less.  Foodnetwork.com. https://www.foodnetwork.com/fn-dish/news/2018/9/americans-are-cooking-more-meals-at-home–eating-out-less 

Streit, L. 2018. The flexitarian diet: A detailed beginner’s guide. HealthLine.com  https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/flexitarian-diet-guide 

Riesling & Korean dishes, Cabernet Sauvignon & Argentinean cuisine: Internet tools to help you learn about consumer groups who have a need for your wine

By: Kathy Kelley and Dana Ollendyke, Penn State Extension Associate

In the marketing world, we constantly discuss strategies to increase sales, and these conversations often focus on two options – sell more to your current customers or find new ones.

Most people would agree that it is much easier to meet current customers’ needs and demands because you already have a relationship with them. Therefore, your promotion and advertising “costs” (time and money) should be less than what you might need to acquire new customers.

Imagine that you are looking for new markets to sell your wine to because:

  • your wine production volume has increased,
  • you feel you have exhausted the local market and have done your best to attract visitors looking for a tasting room experience, and/or
  • it is essential to investigate new opportunities.

When you first developed your tasting room business plan, you probably gave some thought as to how you would market to consumers and how you would identify potential clientele. If it has been awhile since you’ve reviewed your business plan, you will likely need to update it since your business has probably changed over the years. (This article provides some good direction on when to update your business plan.)

Perhaps you not only thought about how you would attract and meet the needs of consumers based on their generation, consumption frequency, and when they drink wine (e.g. while cooking, watching sports, at restaurants), but maybe you even gave some consideration to learning about how different cultures approach wine and include (or exclude) wine from their diets.

We subscribe to several different online newsletters and journals, some of which are international, and regardless of the newsletter/journal’s origin, there is often an article about how a large brand, wine company, or group of wineries are looking to export to emerging markets. Along with providing information about current wine consumption and predictions, wine preferences, and how wine should be presented in the marketing place (cork vs. screw cap), these articles discuss the population of these foreign lands in terms of growth trends, major population centers, generational distribution, major ethnic groups and races, gender breakdown, employment rate, etc. — all of which can help a business determine the viability of the market and to whom/where to market the product.

Though the goal of these articles is to provide information for targeting wine consumers overseas, the information provided can certainly be useful for targeting wine consumers in the U.S. with specific racial and ethnic heritages.

But how should you begin crafting a strategy to target these consumers?

Winery tasting room owners/operators may be familiar with “who” lives in their city or county, but if you need a refresher or have never really delved into the demographic makeup of these residents, information can be found online in multiple places.

At the top of the list is the US Census Bureau. Census data is presented in multiple ways including:

  • infographics (an example is presented in image 1, below)
  • interactive maps
  • audio
  • photos
  • publications
  • video
  • working papers
  • software.

Image 1. Infographic displaying the changes in the number of foreign-born residents in the U.S. (1960 to 2010) and their native countries (Source: U.S. Census Bureau).


Imagine that you read an article about which alcoholic beverages pair well with authentic Chinese food and you learned that Rieslings are a good choice since “they go well with Chinese cuisine because the mouth-feel is quite refreshing…the range of dry to sweet Rieslings can match all types of Chinese food, plus it’s never too heavy, but rather fresh and fruity.” Now you begin to think about (a) how you could inform current customers that your wines pair well with this popular cuisine (this article provides suggested pairings for “Americanized Chinese” takeout – which also suggests Riesling as being an appropriate choice) and (b) how you could promote your Riesling to the Chinese consumers who may live in your region.

One of the first things you want to do for (b) is to learn whether there is a population of Chinese consumers in your county or metro area (and city if the population is large enough) and how many are age 21 and older. For this example, we used the State College, PA metropolitan area as the location for learning about the existence and number of adults who responded during the 2010 Census that they were “Chinese (except Taiwanese) alone or in any combination.”

The tool we are demonstrating also allows us to search for data for “Chinese alone or in any combination” (which would include Taiwanese) and “Taiwanese alone or in any combination.” Hence, you can get fairly specific with your data requests. (The “alone or in any combination” means that the data describes those who indicated on their Census form that they were only Chinese as well as Chinese consumers who indicated that they were also of another race/ethnicity).

The abbreviated table below provides the following information: Total Chinese population (3,360 individuals in the State College, PA metropolitan area), as well as a breakdown by age range (e.g. 68.1% of these individuals were 21 and older in 2010), and the number of males who were between the ages of 20 and 24 (524 or 15.6% of the total population of Chinese).

Image 2. A portion of a table that describes the total population of Chinese (except Taiwanese) and breakdown by age range and other characteristics based on the 2010 U.S. Census.


There are many ways to build tables like the one presented for this demonstration. We simply used “metro/micro statistical area within state” and “Race and Hispanic Origin” as our search criteria and then selected the “DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010” (Image 3).

Image 3. Search fields and options available to create tables like that in Image 2 (From the US Census Bureau website)


One caveat is that data is only available if more than 100 individuals are in the group you are investigating. For example, with the State College metropolitan area being less populated than other metro areas in the state, there were not enough “Argentineans,” “Nicaraguans,” or others from select South American countries to create tables (though we were able to learn that at the time of the 2010 Census, there were 651 “South Americans” residing in the metro area). In contrast, data for the much larger metropolitan Philadelphia area showed that there were 2,336 Argentineans residing in this location.   If there is a large population of Argentineans in your area and you want to promote a wine that will pair well with traditional “pork dishes and rich, winter-warming meat stews” then you would focus on your Cabernet Sauvignon (http://bit.ly/LjvC0R).

EASI Demographics User Friendly Tool

At times, the U.S. Census data can be overwhelming to search through (we admit that it took us a while to find, figure out how to develop the tables, and make changes), so you may want to access other tools that make the Census data more “user friendly.” Easy Analytic Software Inc (EASI) is an example of one of the tools that I often use to obtain consumer demographic information. EASI provides both paid and free options that allow users to more easily search Census data (instructions for navigating to the free tools can be found here).

Image 4 shows how we created a “Free Complete Report & Analysis.” There are many report options: population by ethnic race, age, sex, etc. and this one will give you more information that you may need, but you’ll see in Image 5 that it provides a nice breakdown of population by country of origin. We often use the EASI Ring Study as it provides data based on radiuses you select (we used 10, 30, and 50 miles) from an address you provide (we used a Harrisburg, PA address for this example).

Image 4. Criteria used (address and three radiuses) to create a Free Complete Report & Analysis. Click the “Locate!” button after you enter the address in box 1. Then click “Create Site Study” to access the data you requested.


Image 5a. Data at the top of this report provides descriptive statistics of the population density, population, and households by year (including projected growth) within 10, 30, and 50 miles from the address used. The comprehensive report also provides population data of those who were of Asian Indian, Bangladeshi, Cambodian, etc. ancestry and who resided within the three radiuses (Image 5b).

Image 5a

Image 5a

Image 5b

Image 5b


Learning about Competitors and Consumer Expenditures

Though not solely focused on race and ethnic populations, if you have connected with your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC), they offer Geographic Information Systems (GIS) reports. These reports are free of charge to prospective or existing small business owners who are receiving business-counseling services from their local SBDC Advisor.

Some of the reports include:

  • Competition maps—These maps show the location of individual competitors in relation to a small business location.
  • Competitor lists—These lists can include a competitor’s company name, location, number of employees at each location, whether the location is a competitor’s single location or branch, estimated annual sales volume, the competitor’s NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) and SIC (Standard Industrial Classification) codes and a latitude and longitude coordinate.
  • Consumer expenditure comparison reports—These reportshelp clients evaluate the relative demand for their chosen industry within their local market area, county, state, and the nation.
  • Drive time reports—The time it takes to travel to a local store or restaurant can be a significant factor in defining the target market for a small business. These highly detailed maps show the geographic boundaries of a small business’ target market customized to the amount of time considered acceptable to the small business’ clientele (Image 6).

Image 6. A sample Drive Time Map showing the market area that can reach a small business destination in Lakewood, CA within 10 minutes. (Contact your local SBDC for a customized map.)


Certainly, this post doesn’t discuss all that is needed to better understand consumers’ attitudes, behaviors, etc. towards wine based on their race and ethnicity. It does, however, provide some tools that are useful in gathering data and learning about the population of racial and ethnic groups you could serve in your community.

There are other components such as the consumer’s level of “acculturation,” which is the “cultural modification of an individual, group, or people by adapting or borrowing traits from another culture” (http://bit.ly/1xEH2NK). To demonstrate this point, we will use an example from Kathy’s family. Her sister-in-law was born in South Korea and came to the U.S. 15 years ago. As she has become more ingrained in U.S. society some of her habits and preferences have become more “mainstream” American. Not only can food choices, etc. change over time, but as someone becomes “fully acculturated,” their language preference can change from their native language to English (http://bit.ly/1IxluaM) which could impact how you choose to promote your wine.

Another component is to search the Internet for “wine and Asian culture,” “wine and Chinese culture,” etc. to learn about wine style preferences and how wine is consumed (e.g. wine and Coke or wine cocktails). Also, don’t forget to investigate what culturally significant holidays these consumers celebrate.

Regardless, conducting adequate research is crucial when developing a realistic marketing plan. By finding out as much as possible about viable consumer segments, you will have a much better chance of understanding their needs and wants and gaining them as customers.

Consumer Attitudes and Behaviors towards Wine Purchases: Demographics

By: Abby Miller

2  Demographics Vineyards_Winery

Before delving into the data collected during a 15-minute Internet survey conducted to quantify wine purchasing and consumption and wine consumers’ social media use, it will be beneficial to describe respondents who participated. As a reminder, 1,183 wine consumers, between ages 21 and 64, who had purchased and drank wine at least once within the previous year, and who resided in New Jersey, New York, or Pennsylvania participated in the study.

Of the 1,183 participants, 62.9% were female. Survey responses from our female participants will provide great insight as women make a majority of wine purchases in the United States (Tinney, 2014). The majority of participants, 58.5%, were married or in a partnership, followed by 33% who were single.

Participants were asked to select the category that best described their 2012 annual household income. According to the U.S. Census Bureau (http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/p60-245.pdf), in 2012, 24.3% of household incomes were between $25,000 and $49.999, which is similar to our data as 26.2% of participants indicated that their household income fell within this range. While 29.2% of U.S. households reported an income between $50,000 and $74,999, slightly fewer of our participants (22.7%) reported having an income between $50,000 and $75,999.

Table 1, below, depicts the age range of participants segmented by income level. We look at demographics closely as these data help us understand if income, age range, etc. have an impact on purchases. The category with the greatest percentage of participants, based on these demographic variables, by a small margin, were those between age 21 and 24 years and with income levels of $25,000 to $49,000 (33.2%). The impact of household income level and age on wine purchasing will be discussed in future posts.

Table 1. Percentage of annual income level of participants by their age range

Table 1. Percentage of annual income level of participants by their age range. “z” Indicates percents with different letters within rows (e.g. less than $25,000) represent ANOVA tests where values are significantly different at the level of P≤0.05

Pertaining to employment, the majority of participants responded that they were “employed by someone else” (60%), followed by a much lower percentage of participants who were full-time homemakers (11%). These and other occupational data are presented in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Survey participants reported employment status

Figure 1. Survey participants reported employment status

Other demographic variables were investigated including the number of household members (both adults and children) who reside with survey participants, as they may have an influence on frequency and quantity of wine purchased and consumed. For example, it has been hypothesized that alcohol availability and easy access to alcohol are related to a greater consumption of alcohol and alcohol-related problems among adolescents (Friese et al., 2012). Consumers living in households with children may want to limit their children’s access to alcoholic beverages if they are concerned about this potential behavior. For our participants, 40.6% lived in a household with one other adult, age 18 years or older, and slightly more than half, 51.6%, of participants resided in a household without children age 17 and younger. Future posts will discuss differences in attitudes and behaviors based on household composition.

Understanding a few of these key demographic and socioeconomic factors will provide insight into Mid-Atlantic wine consumer’s consumption and purchasing habits. We hope you look forward to our next post as we will describe the juicy details of our survey participants’ wine purchasing habits.



Friese, Bettina, Joel W. Grube, and Roland S. Moore. “How Parents of Adolescents Store and Monitor Alcohol in the Home.” The National Institutes of Health. June 2012; 33(2-3): 79-83.

Tinney, Mary-Colleen. “Consumer Studies Show Positive Wine Trends.” Wine Business. 24 January 2014. http://www.winebusiness.com/wbm/?go=getArticleSignIn&dataId=42403


Abigail Miller is a Master’s student at Penn State University, specializing in wine marketing. Her interests lie mainly within understanding the marketing and social media strategies appropriate for independent wineries, but she also enjoys learning about the production and wine making side of the business. Her hope is to one day become knowledgeable in all aspects of running a winery.

Research & Thesis Advisory Team:

  • Dr. Kathleen Kelley, Professor, Horticultural Marketing and Business Management, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Dr. Jeffrey Hyde, Professor, Agricultural Economics, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Ms. Denise Gardner, Extension Enologist, Department of Food Science, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Dr. Brad Rickard, Assistant Professor, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University
  • Dr. Ramu Govindasamy, Professor, Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, Rutgers University
  • Dr. Karl Storchmann, Clinical Professor, Economics Department, New York University; Managing Editor, Journal of Wine Economics
  • Dr. Rob Crassweller, Professor, Professor of Tree Fruit, 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 http://www.ams.usda.gov.