Monthly Archives: May 2009

How Millennials View YOU, Wine Industry

Everybody’s attempting to do the brand new dance now – it’s called TRY AND REACH OUT TO MILLENNIAL CONSUMERS.  Well, what do Millennials think of all this?  Granted, there aren’t nearly enough people attempting, but let’s look at the landscape.

dancefloor

It looks a lot like the dancefloor at the last wedding you went to.  Now, not everyone is out on the floor – it takes a certain amount of courage to get out there.  Of the people out on the floor, you observe a few different types.  First off, there’s the “kids.”  They’re looking pretty good – they know the music, know the moves, and they’re having fun.  Then there’s the “grandparents” – we love them just for getting out there and trying.  Then there’s the “parents” – they’re a bit older than the kids, but they’re out there.  They’re trying.  Some of them are attempting to bring back their own famous dance moves from back in the day – with little success.  Some are trying to copy the “kids” since they must know best, right?  This can be pretty embarassing to watch.  Some of them, however, know the music and know the scene and can get right down to business.

Welcome to the party that is the wine industry right now.  Good for everyone on that dance floor for just getting up and trying.  As an observer, though, you can see that not everyone is… let’s say effective.  Most of the “kids” look great.  You want to go up and hug the “grandparents” just for being awesome enough to try.  But it’s the main population of the dance floor, the “parents,” that are tough to watch.  The best people on the floor know the music and the scene – regardless of whether they are 14 or 62 – the rest are trying, bless their hearts, but they’re not really getting anywhere.

officedance

Let this be a warning...

So if the dance floor is made up of companies vying for the Millennial consumer, that would make the Millennial consumer… YOU. THE OBSERVER.

Millennials have had advertising campaigns shoved in our faces since we were propped up in front of our parents tvs.  It’s safe to say that we’re a pretty savvy group.  It’s not like we don’t KNOW that we’re being marketed to. We fully realize this – we’re used to it.  In fact, we get perturbed if we are NOT marketed to, and yet a company telling us that they are hip will not make us consumers.  We are innate experts at taking in and analyzing information in order to form opinions.  And we are REALLY good at forming opinions, as any Millennial parent will tell you.  And just as it’s crystal clear to anyone looking at that dancefloor that Uncle Billy is making an ass of himself, it’s just that easy for us to see which companies are wasting their time.

Possibly the most simple and powerful example of this comes from a recent post on FineArtsLA.com.  The post is a piece on a new wine tasting group in Los Angeles (WTF LA – yes, this is my group and apologies for the plug, but there is a reason for it…).  The freelance writer, Jenia Gorton, is a Millennial and has some VERY interesting things to say about how young people are treated as consumers in the wine industry.  I think the most interesting is this quote:

It seems like there is “good” wine, which young people are expected to know nothing about, and “cheap” wine, for us ignorant 20 and 30-somethings, bums, and broke alcoholics.

It speaks directly to what many companies and marketers think of young people consuming wine today: we aren’t educated and we won’t spend the money.  Yep, we hear you loud and clear, but maybe we don’t want some company’s version of 2 Buck Chuck.  Or the new Yellowtail.  It’s possible that we want to be respected as consumers and have a company or two reach out to us based on qualities other than our wallets.  Like our tastes, our sense of humor, our lifestyles, our shared experiences – but if a company is not connected to any of these things… that effort will still be a FAIL.

So what can marketers learn from Millennials like Ms. Gorton? If you’re going out on the floor, you better know how to DANCE.

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Filed under Basics, Growth, Marketing, Myths & Legends, Outreach

Where Millennials Are Buying Wine: Some Tough Love For The Wine Industry

Millennials are wine’s next big consumer.  So why aren’t smaller business in the wine industry (boutique wineries, wine shops, wine bars, etc.) seeing much of the action?    There could be several factors at work, most of which business owners have direct control over.  These controllable factors include outreach, branding, marketing, social media presence, brand awareness, accessibility and plain old customer relations.  However, one factor that many people don’t think of – and one that business owners do not have direct control of –  is the current buying habits of this generation.

Somehow (Millennials) have gotten to the point where we’re getting $15 – $20 everyday drinking wine, but we’ve never been to a tasting, never been to a winery, and feel like we have no idea what we’re actually doing. It doesn’t stop us from buying, but it does keep us in our comfort zone of the same familiar aisle at Trader Joe’s.  And there’s the issue.

Though there are some numbers out there that I have found useful for my own use, the details that small businesses need are not available from the huge (and expensive) research firms at this time.  Having all the tools, I decided to take matters into my own hands and conduct my own online survey for my company, Millennier Wine Sales.   This survey was conducted over the internet using direct email and social media tools.  The sample size consists of over 100 respondents within the age range of 21-32.  The percentages that you see are rounded to the nearest 100th of a percent.  The respondents were all located in states where it is legal to purchase wine grocery stores, and mainly resided in California.

Though this information was originally intended only for MWS, I’ve decided to publish my findings in the hopes that people will take notice of the trends and pass on the information so we as an industry can do something about it.  I’ll continue to post the other findings of this survey, but I find it extremely important to all aspects of the industry to focus on this first question:

Millennial wine buying habits as revealed by a recent Millennier Wine Sales online survey

Millennial buying habits as revealed by a recent Millennier Wine Sales online survey: Bars 1.91%, Grocery Stores 45.71%, Liquor Stores 25.71%, Mini Mart 1.91%, Restaurant 4.76%, Wine Shops 17.14%, Other 3.80%

The most important lesson we learn from this chart is that ALMOST HALF of Millennials are buying their wine in a grocery store.  An additional 25% are purchasing wine at liquor stores that include giants like BevMo and others.  With results like these, it is not hard to understand why small businesses in the wine industry are not feeling the positive effects of this Great New Hope called Millennials.

It makes sense really.  As a Millennial, I’ve walked the path than many of us have taken, and many more will continue to do so in the future:  We get our first apartment and realize that with 2 Buck Chuck, we can actually buy wine!  It’s kind of a big deal to even HAVE wine as a 21-22 year old, so I would (swear to God) not drink it myself, but save it for guests (I know, I know).  After we get used to buying wine for $2, we start in on the Yellowtail.  Now we’re experiencing a new varietal or 2 and guess what – this is why we love Syrah!  After some time with the YT, we now know we enjoy wine and are comfortable spending more than $10 on a bottle of wine.  Now we’re serious wine consumers, but the only place we really feel comfortable buying wine is in the super-market.  Somehow we’ve gotten to the point where we’re getting $15 – $20 everyday drinking wine, but we have never been to a tasting, never been to a winery, and feel like we have no idea what we’re actually doing. It doesn’t stop us from buying, but it does keep us in our comfort zone of the same familiar aisle at Trader Joe’s.  And there’s the issue.

Less than 2% said that they purchase most of their wine from wineries or wine clubs (included in the “other” category).  How will smaller wineries that do not have placement or distribution in huge grocery store chains be able to reach this important group?  How will small businesses in all areas of the wine industry benefit from this generation if almost all the money is going through only 2 channels?

The answer is clear.  OUTREACH.  It’s a great sign to see over 17% of this group purchasing most frequently from wine shops.  This is a trend that everyone in the wine industry should encourage.  It could be the only way that non-supermarket brands can benefit from these consumers in the short- and long-run.  I strongly believe that WE as members of the wine industry need to be the ones to get Millennials out of the grocery store aisles and into wine shops & wineries.   Talk to your favorite wine shop, encourage them to reach out to this age group.  If you are a winery and the shop carries your brands, offer to hold a tasting there geared towards younger drinkers.  If you are a retailer,  look into social media – even if you’re intimidated, all it really takes is a Facebook page.  Throw events, reach out to younger social groups in your area, get creative.  I know of a young BOOK CLUB in LA that has all their meetings at a wine shop with a tasting bar.

Though this will be a difficult hurdle to overcome for smaller businesses in the wine industry, it is not insurmountable.  It will take a grassroots approach to create the paradigm shift that is needed, but the first step – identifying the issue – has already been taken.  Please pass this information on to others who are affected by it, even if it’s just something that is brought up in conversation.

If you are a small business in the wine industry and you have already taken steps to get young people out of the grocery store aisles and into wineries or wine shops, leave a comment, share what you’ve learned with others who are looking to start.  If you’re a Millennial, what do you think would regularly get you into a smaller wine retailer?   Share your thoughts and let’s get to work!

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Filed under Basics, Charts & Numbers, Growth, Marketing, Outreach

The Wealthiest Generation Ever: Wine Must Go Grassroots

Take a tip from Millennials: Go Grassroots

Take a tip from Millennials: Go Grassroots

According to Deloitte Research, Millennials born between 1982 and 1993 have an annual income of $200 billion and can expect to inherit $17.8 trillion from previous generations, making this the WEALTHIEST GENERATION EVER.  Many industries are frantically trying to capitalize on this, from insurance companies to banks to the automotive business, so where does the wine industry fit in?

It is crucial that the wine business harnesses the potential of this affluent generation now.

Millennials love wine and are buying it in record numbers. We have already made the choice to enjoy wine, much to the amazement of many industry professionals.  However, many young people do not feel like they would be accepted in the current wine culture and therefore don’t seek to be a part of it.  For example, many would rather purchase the same big brands in the anonymity of a grocery store aisle rather than risk being embarrassed by lack of knowledge in a wine shop.  For the US Wine Industry, this means that a large part of the generation (which John Gillespie calls the “future of the wine industry”) could potentially continue to support the same few enormous companies that they find in these stores – both domestic and foreign – instead of supporting the thousands of  smaller independent producers and merchants that the American wine industry has to offer.  It is crucial that the wine business harnesses the potential of this affluent generation now.  There must be a paradigm shift.

Take a tip from the Millennials: go grassroots.  Every person in the wine industry that deals directly with consumers has the potential to make an impact.  Be an ambassador.

Invoke The Campsite Rule

Invoke The Campsite Rule

The next time a Millennial enters your store, tasting room, restaurant, bar or event, take the time to speak with them.  Answer their questions, ask some of your own, and add to their base of knowledge.  Many newer wine drinkers, not just Millennials, are intimidated by the “old school” exclusive and snobbish wine culture – make it your goal to debunk this stereotype.  Welcome them into the wine community.  It’s time to invoke a variation on The Campsite Rule: Leave each young wine-drinker with a better wine experience than when you found them.

If we in the wine industry can take advantage of the circumstances and cultivate this group not just as the new generation of wine buyers, but as the NEW GENERATION OF THE WINE COMMUNITY – we can create a lasting relationship that will benefit everyone for years to come.

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Filed under Basics, Growth, HOW Series, Marketing, Outreach