This month I attended Mutineer Magazine’s Marvelous Millennial Wine Marketing Circus. The five speakers included a blogger, two entrepreneurs that connect consumers to wine, a PR pro and the magazine’s founder/editor. I came away with some valuable insights about:
- How Millennials are different from other consumers
- What they really want
- How to reach them
What Makes Millennials Different?
First, let’s clarify who we’re referring to as Millennials. Birth-years aside, we know them as our newest wine consumers. Speaker Tyler Balliet, Founder of Second Glass, uses this definition:
Millennials are the first group who grew up with the Internet, mobile phones and smart phones.
This means, 1) they have always had access to any and all information they want. While the generations before them were information seekers, Millennials sort and validate information. And, 2) they’re connected to their friends continuously. More on why this is important for wine marketing later.
This generation also views wine differently. For their entire lives, wine has been everywhere – at home, in restaurants, bars, grocery stores, movies, television. Wine, for them, is just another item on their grocery list. As in: tomatoes – check, toilet paper – check, red wine – check.
Millennials are different because they share information constantly, they’re overwhelmed by choices and information, and they don’t view wine as a mystical beverage on a pedestal. These differences give savvy wine marketers a chance to stand out by helping them filter information, understand wine a little better, and share this information with their friends.
What Do Millennials Want?
They want to educate themselves about wine. Even though wine is everywhere and much less intimidating than it once was, new wine consumers understand that different varietals have different flavor profiles, that origin influences flavor, and that certain wines and foods pair comfortably together. They are eager to learn more about these topics in order to enhance their own enjoyment and comfort level with wine.
They want information to be relevant. Don’t talk tech.These consumers are new to wine, and they are self conscious about looking unsophisticated. If you say your wine “has a hint of red raspberry flavor,” does that mean it has raspberry juice in it? Really, this is how unclear our language is to these consumers. We need to quit talking to each other, and start talking to our consumers, who don’t work in the wine industry. Don’t turn them off with technical winemaking language. They’re not trying to make wine – they’re trying to drink it.
Make your back label copy appropriate to how your consumer uses wine: “This hearty red goes well with pizza, pasta, grilled meats and spicy snacks like chips and salsa. Enjoy it at a barbecue or with movie night nachos.” Aha. Now they can see where this fits into their real lives.
They’re looking for real information from a trusted source. Be real, be clear and establish your authority by delivering authoritative information in an accessible way.
They want information to be available when they want it. Make your mobile site a quick reading resource on how to enjoy your wine, and tell your unique and compelling story. If they’re on your mobile site, they most likely are either drinking or considering drinking your wine.
How Do We Reach Millennials?
Yes, there was talk of social media. But several speakers made the point that it’s not all about social media – shouting in facebook ads will get you nowhere. We want to draw our audience in and engage them.
Remember what I said about Millennials’ constant connection with their friends? According to Tyler Balliet, 78% of millennials get their wine recommendations from friends. Let me repeat that: friends are the #1 source of information about wine for this age group. So, a millennial does not whip out their smart phone in the wine aisle and google “what’s the best wine for steak.” And they don’t read Wine Spectator. They text their one or two wine-smart friends and ask them directly for info, because that’s who they trust.
Don’t try to use social media or any other means to reach directly to each and every one of your consumers. Create a dialogue with the truly interested and passionate millennials who then, in turn, will educate their network about wine in general and recommend what wines to buy. You need to earn the trust of, and engage with, these one or two wine-involved millennials in each tribe. They’ll inform the others.
Encourage engagement. Millennials expect to be able to dialogue. If there’s a QR code on your label, does it take them somewhere directly relevant to the bottle they’re holding? And, is there a place for comments? A way to drill down for more information? A “Share” button?
Millennials love a story and will remember it.They, like all consumers, are overwhelmed by the abundance of seemingly identical wines on the shelf. Figure out what is truly unique about your brand, something your consumers can relate to on an emotional level, and tell that story consistently across your package, your web presence, events and social media efforts.
The Bottom Line?
While Millennials do present marketers with new challenges, what strikes me is this: if we reach millennials by being more inclusive, less technical, better storytellers, and easily sharable, we are serving all of our consumers of every age. By becoming better marketers to Millennials, our newest wine consumers, we become better wine and spirits marketers in general.
One tip I liked from the Wine Circus was: “Don’t tailor your brand to fit social media. Figure out your individual brand voice and tailor your social strategy to your brand audience.” Here are a couple of resources to get you started.
Second Glass’s Wine Riot and App: Second Glass hosts fun “events for the thirsty and curious.” Wine Riot events are fun filled wine-learning parties. More details here. And! They’ve created an App that consumers can use to keep track of wines they’ve enjoyed and share them with facebook friends. More info here.
Find Real People Who Blog About Wine: Remember, it’s those passionate few who go out and gather the info for their tribe and then spread the word, becoming the wine info source for their friends. These are the people you want to know. The best list of wine blogs I’ve ever found is on the lower right side of the Mutineer Magazine Blog. Go here and scroll down, click around.