The big question regarding Millennials and wine these days is: Will they spend the money? The answer is not as simple as you’d like. Perhaps a better question would be: HOW can we encourage them to spend the money? This, at least, is an easy one. Each Friday I’ll be bringing you a specific tip and serious insight on how to reach out to Millennials as CONSUMERS. You can put these tips into practice immediately and see for yourself how effective they can be.
For this series, let’s take the topic from the point of view of a winery that’s feeling a slow-down in sales. Your wines range in price from $35 to $70 and you are pouring each of them today in your tasting room. It looks to be a tough year and today you need to sell bottles and build up your wine club, which you’ll be relying on heavily for income until the big tourist season. It’s been a slow week so far. A couple walks in. You notice right away – they can’t be more than 25 years old.
This is where most people experience a sinking feeling in their stomach. Two more tasting fees, 10 pours total, and no sales – that’s what you’re expecting. And if you expect that, you’ll most likely get it.
So HOW can you encourage a sale from these “kids?” There are a few things you should know and keep in mind the next time a 20-something comes by.
…that young couple in your tasting room are just as likely to assume that you will judge them based on their age… as you are likely to do it.
MILLENNIALS ARE A GENERATION, NOT A TYPE
I came across a blog on the Press Democrat’s site about this year’s Wine Road Barrel Tasting event. The title of the piece was Has the Wine Road Barrel Tasting become a frat party? The post begins with an Ohio couple saying that they will never return to the event because of the “antics of the younger crowd.” This surprised me. Then I read on to discover that someone has named this troublemaking group the “madcap millennials.” This also surprised me. What DIDN’T surprise me, though, was reading on to discover that this year’s Wine Road Barrel Tasting was scheduled during Spring Break for local colleges. First of all, they were college kids. So were you at one point and I wonder if the Press Democrat would have liked to hear any of the stuff YOU did back then. Second of all, is anyone surprised that college kids showed up to an ALCOHOL THEMED EVENT DURING SPRING BREAK? The piece is attempting to stir up some sensationalist buzz (and I suppose it’s working if I’m writing about it) on the hot topic of Millennials by purposefully misrepresenting an entire generation. By in blurring the line between college students that fall within the generation’s age range and the ACTUAL ENTIRE GENERATION, the message is a dramatic one - the very same group that is bolstering our industry is bastardizing and crippling it at the same time. This is just as erroneous as saying that because half of this generation is under 21, all Millennials are drinking illegally. Unfortunately, judging from the comments, many people are willing to make a similar leap in logic. It’s crucial that you don’t make the same mistake by judging and generalizing in this way, even if it’s not on purpose. It will cost you a consumer.
The Millennial generation, like every generation, is a group made up of VERY diverse people who all happened to be born within years of each other. We are rich and we are poor. We are waiters and CEO’s. We are crazy college kids and we are parents. What all of these different types have in common is the world that they grew up in, the universal experiences that shaped both their views and their expectations of the world around them. This is an important distinction and crucial to keep in mind. You truly can’t tell what someone in this demographic group will spend in your shop simply by noticing how old they are. This is a very sensitive subject with young people today, and that young couple in your tasting room are just as likely to assume that you will judge them based on their age… as you are likely to do it.