The face of wine marketing is changing. It’s getting younger. And it didn’t need Botox to do it. If you want to sell something, really sell it, it’s got to be cool. Look at any product out there; if it’s considered cool, it’s because younger consumers have deemed it so. The wine industry, for the most part, is becoming very aware.
Until the last decade or so, the impression of the world of wine has been a little, well, stuffy. But if you look at most wine stores now, as I recently did, you’ll see a distinct pattern emerging: the wines with the most interesting, funkycool label art and packaging are getting prominent shelf space, usually in the front row. And that’s the perfect position for the grab-a-bottle-on-the-way-to-the-party crowd.
Twenty-something Millennials are fast becoming the key group to the future of wine marketing. According to Donniella Winchell, Executive Director of Ohio Wines, there are two basic categories, the first ranging from ages 24 to 28. “This group are recent graduates who have been negatively affected by the recession but are still interested in fun wines; the sweet whites and reds. The over 28’s are well-employed and prefer wines in the $12 to $24 range.” She adds that, “By the ages of 14 to 25, they’ve established their taste in music, clothing and are well on their way to molding their decision-making in beverages, and there are lots of choices. Most have been exposed to better wines over the years because of what their parents were drinking.”
It’s no surprise that social media largely influences what’s trending in wine brands and what’s being chosen in the wine store. There’s also the tendency to veer away from traditional brands in favor of wines that have a celebrity buzz or are socially or environmentally conscious. Winchell notes, “They’re not always brand loyal or specific ~ paying more attention to what their friends are buying or what they’re reading about online via Twitter and Facebook.”
Differences are clear not only in buying habits but also at events. In tracking wine sales and attendance at winery events, Winchell notes that, “Millennials tend to gravitate to the sweeter wine and, at events, hang in larger groups ~ buying maybe a bottle. Wineries generally like to focus on the age 45 plus consumers who have larger incomes and buy wine by the case.”
But Millennials are the future and Winchell cautions that wineries who don’t account for them in their long-range forecasts will be left behind, “Those who don’t pay attention to Millennials now won’t know why they’re in trouble in 10 years.”
This is a really interesting trend for wine and it’s something I’ll be keeping an eye on, especially within the Ohio wine industry, in upcoming posts.