Monthly Archives: March 2009

The HOW Series: Reaching Out To Millennials As YOUR Consumers

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.

LET’S PRETEND

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.

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Filed under Basics, HOW Series, Myths & Legends

Wine’s Facebook Debate

fb-question

Here’s the question: Is it worth it for wine businesses to invest the time and effort into working with Facebook?

Short answer: If you care about the Millennial Generation, YES IT’S WORTH YOUR TIME.  Every argument that I have heard to the contrary seems to be lacking some crucial and basic knowledge about the use of the social networking site.  Let me fill in the blanks.

A (VERY) BRIEF HISTORY

Facebook was created in a Harvard dorm room as a student directory for the school.  This was in 2004 and was originally called “The Facebook.”  Within 4 months they had expanded out to 40 colleges.  Mark was roughly 20 years old when he moved the company to Palo Alto the following summer and you can pretty much guess the rest.

Take a good look at the picture.  This is the founder and CEO of facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg

SO WHAT?

Facebook was created specifically for the Millennial generation by one of our own.  This is very important to keep in mind.  In reading and listening to wine industry social media-types rail on the uselessness of this network, I hear a basic lack of understanding in how my generation specifically uses facebook.  From all that I’ve heard from these conversations, those with strong opinions tend to dismiss facebook as simply a way for old high school acquaintances to re-connect and play goofy vampire/mob/zombie games online.  Which in all fairness may be exactly how they use the site.

For millennials, however, it is much more.  I’ll only speak for myself and my friends here, but to us facebook is a lifeblood of communication.  We get to work in the morning, log into our email then log into facebook.  This networking site is how we know who broke up with whom, who’s birthday it is, where people are going on Saturday night, and who just got engaged.

someecards.com

someecards.com

It’s also a very effective way to communicate privately via the “Send A Message” (which is an in-system email).  Carol Phillips, a Marketing Instructor at the University of Notre Dame, clearly gets it.  She is the president and owner of Brand Amplitude, LLC  and the mother of two millennials.  On her excellent blog, Millennial Marketing, she states “I completely change my habits when communicating with Millennials. To reach my daughter and son quickly, text is the only way to go. My teaching assistants? Facebook messages. I once sent my TA’s Amazon gift certificates to their email address. It took a suggestion to their Facebook account to look for it before they even noticed.” You can leverage this effectively by tagging your fans in your notes & posts.

HOW TO

When you create a page for your winery or business on facebook, you allow others out there to become your “fan.”  Let’s say we’re facebook friends and you just created a page for your winery, FB WINES.  I’ll see on my newsfeed that you’re a fan of FB WINES and I click on the icon.  I’ll be taken to the page, where I can add myself as a fan.  Done.  You can also post it to your status or publish it as a note tagging basically everyone you know.  It’s very simple to get your page out to your network, then THEIR networks will see on your friends’ profiles or in their own Newsfeeds that people are fans of FB WINES and so on and so forth.

Creating a page  facebook is INCREDIBLY easy.  Just go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php a great guide on the new pages format is here.  You can also reach a link to create a page right at the bottom of the login page at http://www.facebook.com .

GOT IT?

There’s some initial set-up time – anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour if you’re a type-A like myself – but it’s completely offset by the benefits.  Of all the Pages that I’m a fan of, 95% of them I added because I saw it on my Newsfeed from a friend or on their profiles.  Once you get your page out there, let it work for itself.

Now, once you’ve got some fans you can have as much or as little fun as you want, but remember, the more you update it, the more your name will be out there in the facebook community and the higher your chances of gaining more fans.  You can add events and invite people, upload photos of new products, even just updating your status message will bring people to your page.

This isn’t just for wineries, by the way.  A great example of a retailer taking full example of a facebook page is Silverlake Wines.  This is a local LA wine store that embraces the younger generations (millennial and x) of their neighborhood and greater LA.  Customers are rabid fans and jumped all over their page.  Next time you are on facebook, I encourage you to check it out, become a fan and see just how they’ve mastered the medium.  You can link directly from their page.

OK, GO!

Now that we’ve de-bunked some of those myths, get out there and create your page. If you’re having trouble with decisions on what to include, do a quick search and see what else is out there.  Or you can grab the nearest millennial – odds are they can offer some valuable insight.

And feel free to comment with a link to your shiny new facebook page so I can help you get the word out and become a fan.  Best of luck and have fun!

Thanks to WineDiverGirl for her great post on this topic to which I responded with a comment that was FAR too long and realized I needed to write my own.

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Filed under Marketing, Social Networking

Meet a Millennial

I’m a millennial and I love wine – and I’m not the only one by a long shot.  In the inaugural post of this blog, I want to take a minute and point out (in case anyone has been living in a cave lately) just WHY Millennials are such a big deal to the wine industry right now, and why an industry blog written by one of us can be so valuable to individuals working in the business.

There are so many different parameters and definitions for The Millennial Generation – let’s clarify.  For the use of this blog, we’ll use the definition that Millennials are people born between the years 1977 and 2000.  There are between 70 and 76 million of us out there, and not even half of us are drinking age.

2008 Wine Market Council New Growth Chart

According to several studies and industry observations this is the generation that is generating the biggest growth in the core wine-drinking population.  Because of this trend and today’s market, this age group will be crucial in supporting the U.S. wine industry through the current recession.  John Gillespie, president of the Wine Market Council, suggests that Millennials are the future of the wine industry.  “What’s unique about Millennials is how quickly they are discovering and embracing wine as core consumers, rather than slowly incorporating wine into their lives as we’ve seen previous generations do,” says Gillespie.

There are between 70 and 76 million of us out there, and not even half of us are drinking age.

After switching careers from a big deal Hollywood talent agency into the world of wine, I wanted to get my hands on some research – and lots of it. Specifically the effects and prognosis of my generation on the industry. After searching, reviewing, subscribing, reading, listening and watching just about ANYTHING available, I’ve found some incredibly valuable information, interesting POVs, and some egregious fallacies.

The Millennier Blog seeks to share important information as it pertains to Millennials and wine, to bring in valuable feedback and opinions from millennials, and, when necessary, to call out the bull.*

This blog was built to help teach individuals in the wine industry how to reach out and tap into this next generation of wine consumers.

*First thing to learn about Millennials, if you don’t already know: We tend to speak our mind pretty freely.

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Filed under Basics