Home Wine Business Editorial DTC DTC Impact Report: Outreach and Inclusion Attract Younger Drinkers

DTC Impact Report: Outreach and Inclusion Attract Younger Drinkers


The 2022 Direct-to-Consumer Impact Report offers a variety of key insights on trends and developments in tasting rooms and DtC over the last year.

By Jeff Siegel


Is one of the solutions to wine’s problem with younger consumers in one of the findings in a recent Direct-to-Consumer study?

Andrea Smalling, chief marketing officer at WineDirect
Andrea Smalling, chief marketing officer at WineDirect

One of the people behind the study thinks just that.

“One of the parts of the study that surprised me the most was that, outside of the West Coast, in the regions often overlooked by the major wine publications, the demographics were younger,” says Andrea Smalling, the chief marketing officer for WineDirect, which conducted the survey with Enolytics data consultancy. “The wine industry might learn something from this, since these regions aren’t seen as exclusive as California and are less pretentious — and are also less expensive.”

Collecting DTC numbers

The 2022 Direct-to-Consumer Impact Report (released March 22, 2023) offered a variety of key insights on trends and developments in tasting rooms and DtC over the last year and focused specifically on generational and gender differences.

Cathy Huyghe, Enolytics
Cathy Huyghe, Enolytics

The data, says Cathy Huyghe, the co-founder of Enolytics, is probably among the best ever put together, both in quality and quantity, since it was based on 250 million transactions  from more than 2,000 wineries across the country. For example, she says, the survey had access to customer first names, which allowed analysts to pinpoint male vs. female — something that’s often been difficult in the past.

“The technology is much better understood by the wineries these days,” she says, “and it’s more welcome. They’re more willing to participate in the survey, because people want the information that we find.”

Make wine fun

The dichotomy between the West Coast and the rest of the country may well be about cost and image, says Smalling. She notes that a hotel room in parts of Napa can cost as much as $800 per night, which may not only be too expensive for Gen X and millennials, but may also strike them as an indication that the region is too fussy and not as much fun.

If it’s about the experience, she says, younger consumers may think they can get a more and better experience elsewhere, such as Texas, Michigan or Virginia, where the emphasis isn’t necessarily on the next $200 bottle of cabernet sauvignon, but on spending quality time with friends.

More key findings

  • Younger wine drinkers are more likely to purchase through the tasting room; older consumers are more likely to use the wine club or the website. This may be a holdover from the pandemic, which made older consumers less comfortable going out.
  • Women buy more wine than men, something that has long been suspected but never really demonstrated. Smalling says this is likely linked to the social experience; women enjoy going to the tasting room with their friends and then sharing it on social media.
  • Wine club transactions accounted for 45% of all DtC sales in 2022, and the channel grew by more than 20% compared to 2021. Tasting room sales accounted for about 35%.
  • The growth in cases sold was flat when compared to 2021, although net sales increased 7.5%. The study attributed this to price hikes. Meanwhile, the average order was $168, up from $160 in 2021.
  • Growth, in both sales and cases, declined in the fourth quarter of 2022 when compared to the same period in 2021, and discounting returned. Some of this, says the report, is attributable to difficult comps, thanks to the post-pandemic bounce at the end of 2021. But some of it may also be because of weaker demand.

In this, the data might make some in wine understand how to reach younger consumers — and to make wine for fun for them.


Editor’s Note: Cathy Huyghe will be speaking at the upcoming 2023 Wine Industry Sales Symposium (WISS), an in-person event held in Santa Rosa on May 11, 2023, on the panel, “Leveraging DTC Sales Insights to Grow Sales Nationally,” which will cover using direct-to-consumer sales data to expand sales more effectively and efficiently. 

Conference sessions will focus on strategies and tactics for “Engaging New Wine Enthusiasts” and will host the industry’s top marketing and winery professionals to share how their brands target and engage the evolving wine consumer. WISS is focused on delivering insights and advice, as well as the tools and techniques needed to maximize sales, increase profits and grow brand awareness. For more information, visit the event website.


Jeff Siegel

Jeff Siegel is an award-winning wine writer, as well as the co-founder and former president of Drink Local Wine, the first locavore wine movement. He has taught wine, beer, spirits, and beverage management at El Centro College and the Cordon Bleu in Dallas. He has written seven books, including “The Wine Curmudgeon’s Guide to Cheap Wine.”



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