Wine Marketing to Millennials: Who gives a f*$%?
- Mike Willison
There's been a maelstrom of articles, blogs, and random blatherings bandied about lately regarding how, exactly, to market wines to Millennials. Apparently, this group of people represents the Most Important Demographic Ever, especially if you ask them, and we all need to unlock their mysteries before it's too late. The general consensus is that young wine drinkers aren't going to react to the same old, stodgy, buttoned up images of wine drinkers in country clubs sipping away at Montrachet after a ripping good game of squash with the same enthusiasm as generations that preceded them, so we should figure out how to be hep cats and get down with their lingo and colloquialisms. As such, we will all begin making wine with labels like this (see Read More), or this (see Read More) and be wildly successful. Sadly, I believe that we are all missing the point.
Consumers make connections to brands, styles and varieties of wine based on any number of diverse criteria, and not all Millennials, Gen X-ers, or Baby Boomers adhere to any cohesive set of strictures except one: authenticity of experience. Sure, any one person from any generation may like shiny things that cost a lot, or weird stuff that they pioneered and are now jaded over because Brand X sold out to The Man, or read about Brand X in the Major Wine Publication Magazine, but you cannot beat the Real McCoy. Seeing a picture of the Grand Canyon isn't the same as flying over, or walking on the edge of the Grand Canyon. So, make good wine, get it in people’s glasses by pounding the pavement, and have a good story about where it came from, the people who made it, or the magical company culture. Make the experience the thing, and make it an authentic extension of the winery as a whole, and people will respond. Otherwise, your target market will eventually outgrow your pinpoint marketing strategy like you outgrew your shoulder-padded oversized blazer and love for NKOTB.
- Carrie Kalscheuer
Who outgrew NKOTB? In all seriousness, you absolutely have a point. I think, however, that what these articles are trying to get at (although possibly missing the "how to get there") is that we have a slew of newcomers to the sport of wine drinking each year, and that if we position ourselves as an out of their reach, too-cool-for-school industry, we will eventually become extinct. Now, we know that isn't true, because these kids will eventually grow up, mature, evolve – just like you say. They'll learn how to drink black coffee without making a face, will develop a taste for things like sweetbreads, and will hopefully learn the difference between a Cabernet and a Pinot Noir. But simply saying, "we’ll get 'em someday" isn’t going to increase business during a depressed market.
Authenticity is always the best approach to anything, sure. But we’re still missing that link – that thing that makes our industry approachable to young potential wine drinkers while maintaining its integrity. And it can't be about just making your wine approachable, but further, it's getting them to want to approach your wine. That ingress is crucial when you're attempting to deliver the 'story' of your wine and winery. Without an IN, we're twiddling our thumbs and waiting for them to outgrow this generation's version of shoulder pads and NKOTB.