By Lisa Donoughe, Watershed Communications Founder
If you want a sense of the enormous influence of millennials, just take a look at the stats. Millennials, the largest generation in America, are expected to spend 200 billion dollars in 2017. They account for 11.6 million households with kids, and they are the most ethnically and racially diverse American generation. Add some context to those numbers — more wine, beer, and spirits options exist now than ever before — and you come up with a positive yet daunting outlook. Millennials are eager to spend their money on wine brands they believe in, but they’re also our most spontaneous and engaged generation.
So, if you want your brand to make it into millennials’ carts, you’ll need to understand their wine-buying habits. Millennials have massive buying power, and yet they often confound retailers. Here are five important qualities every wine brand should consider when marketing to millennials.
Wine as story. Millennials are looking for stories that begin with clean ingredients and end with quality products. Based on Watershed’s proprietary research, 84 percent of millennials believe they can digest a brand’s entire story at first glance. Now, more than ever before, consumer decision making is compressed. Packaging should be optimized for the
glance-and-buy generation with BIG, bold letters. Wines that find success with millennials communicate simplicity and transparency.
Wine as relationship. Millennials may be spontaneous buyers and quick-decision makers, but they’re also looking to build relationships with the products they buy. According to our study, millennials trust brands that make promises and commit to them. Young consumers want to treat brands like old friends. A personal relationship doesn’t end after hanging up the phone, and a brand doesn’t end at the close of an article or advertisement. Maintaining relationships with millennials should be approached with the same care that goes into developing a great product.
Wine as recommendation. In addition to brands, millennials establish trust with preferred media outlets. In contrast, our study uncovered that 84 percent of millennials distrust traditional advertising. Many even go so far as to choosing a product because it’s not advertised. The fact is: a millennial is more likely to purchase wine recommended by a blogger, podcast, or magazine they already follow than a print or digital ad.
Wine as lifestyle. Many millennials rely on media outlets to help curate an entire lifestyle. It is important to respect the relationship of trust consumers have with their media sources. A wine must reflect the person who drinks it. Packaging should communicate mission, and once you find your brand’s true north, you’ll be able to operate within a set of buyer values. Conviction is key to gaining millennial engagement.
Wine as reputation. Millennials believe established, big brands can communicate authenticity right alongside their smaller counterparts. Consistency can make or break brand trust. The top five most mentioned food and beverage brands when asked about authenticity in our study were Trader Joe’s, Coca-Cola, KIND Bars, Honest Tea, and Starbucks. One 23 YO female research subject described Bota Box Wine as “authentic” based on its consistency and reputation: “It talks about its environmentally-friendly packaging and the way that they use technology to keep wine fresh and are not ashamed to be boxed wine, which allows them to come in at a lower price point but still be of high quality.”
While winemakers can’t simply check off boxes to build an authentic retail brand, there is a way to approach this consumer group with confidence. Millennials, often called the “Tinder generation,” are split-second decision makers who want your full brand to come across on the first impression. Wine brands that deliver on their promises, as long as those promises are clearly communicated, should expect more engagement on the shelf.