Millennials Putting Their Mark on the Wine Industry
If the face of the older generation of wine drinkers was Orson Welles rumbling about not selling any wine before its time, the face of a new generation of wine drinkers is Facebook. And Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest.
To adults between the ages of 18 and 33—dubbed the Millennial generation—Facebook, Twitter and the whole range of social media are as integral a part of daily communication as the rotary telephone was to the generation that actually remembers who the hell Orson Welles is. Add to that their well-documented skepticism about institutions, their distaste for pretense in all its forms, their environmental consciousness and their willingness—even eagerness—to try new things, and you have a real challenge to wine producers to engage this influential group of consumers on its own terms.
According to reports, Millennials of drinking age—now upwards of 62 million—consumed more than 25 percent of wine sold in the U.S. and constitute 30 percent of those who drink wine at least once a week.
And vintners are getting serious about going after those consumers. Given Millennials’ preference for receiving information and communicating online and reliance on the recommendations of friends rather than “experts,” producers are reaching them via everything from digital video ads posted on popular websites to Facebook and Twitter-centric promotional campaigns to face-to-face wine tastings and appearances at special events.
Other approaches involve the wine itself. More adventurous, informative and environmentally conscious packaging is one such approach, with bold graphics, labels that tell a wine’s story and even different containers all part of the effort to attract Millennials and stand out on store shelves. The current boomlet in sweet red wines is at least partly driven by Millennials’ taste. And targeting a generation hobbled by a sluggish economy and student debt, vintners are marketing wines priced at $20 and under.
The time for selling wine—Orson Welles or no—is now.