Every time I read an article about wine consumption in the United States a reoccurring vision of the millionaire next door pops up in my head. Most recently there was a discussion in The Wall Street Journal about the types of wine purchased since our current economic recession. “The economic downturn was toughest for the U.S. wineries that sell wines for $20 a bottle and up. After switching to less expensive wine in the downturn many consumers are staying at those lower prices because they liked what they found, industry executives and analysts say.” According to the article, the largest sales increase in the past year was in the $9-$11.99 price per bottle category with a 12.4% increase in volume.
It is nice to know that the many consumers to whom the article alluded have discovered what most millionaires already knew about lower priced wines. As I pointed out in Stop Acting Rich, most millionaires don’t buy wine that retails for $20 or more. So who were the consumers who purchased the over $20 wine before the current economic situation? For the most part, they were the so-called “aspirationals,” those who try to imitate the glittering rich. Generally they have good incomes but relatively low net worths. Now the data indicates that a great many of these people are imitating the millionaire next door!
More than 90% of millionaires consume wine. Eighty-five percent serve wine to guests. The median price they pay per individual bottle is $14.54 [@$13.09 within a case]. One out of four typically serves wine that costs $9.93 or less.