Browsing Tag

millennial

Millennial Stereotypes: Totally True. Mostly.

As a busy millennial, I want to take a moment to address some stereotypes of my generation within the wine industry and beyond. Just fyi, I’m too busy multi-tasking, finding amazing internet videos, trolling hipster hate blogs, and designing my next tattoo to spend a whole lot of time on it. As a matter of fact, in the time it took to read that last sentence, I will have sent out 42 text messages without vowels to my closest friends. So let’s get to it.

MILLENNIALS WON’T BUY EXPENSIVE WINES

This is true, but not because we don’t have the money.  The reason is because we’re too busy burning through our trust funds buying apple products, every bottle of wine that has ever been released with an animal on the label, and 2 Buck Chuck.

MILLENNIALS DON’T USE TWITTER

Kind of true. We do use it to follow twitter-integrated taco trucks and other novelty businesses as well as fake news sources. But we enjoy talking amongst ourselves IRL about how we “seriously don’t get twitter.”

MILLENNIALS LIVE ON THEIR MOBILE DEVICES

Hang on, lemme finish sending this text.

MILLENNIALS CAN TELL WHEN YOUR MARKETING CAMPAIGN IS NOT AUTHENTIC ENOUGH

Totally true. We can also smell your fear and tell you what you had for breakfast.

YOUNG PEOPLE DON’T APPRECIATE WINE, THEY JUST CARE ABOUT GETTING DRUNK

That’s a bingo – completely true. Our number one priority is getting wasted. Which is why we are the fastest growing demographic in wine consumption the US has ever seen. This is because in order to get blitzed on wine we need to buy like WAY more of it than a mature, refined wine enthusiast would – hence, we buy a lot.

ETC.

There are countless more stereotypes to address, but I really have to get back to facebook. Before I do, though, I have to thank Hardy Wallace for his fab post on wine bloggers on Dirty South Wine that inspired this one.

MIND THE GAP: "Phase 2" Proves Elusive For Wine Industry & Millennials

About a BILLION years ago (well, more like 6 months), Gary Moore, author of Vinotrip: A Maryland Wine Blog, put into type-written the words what EVERYONE looking to reach out to Millennials should hear. Everyone in the wine industry, anyway.

In a short and sweet post about the increasingly big deal being made about wine companies reaching the millennial consumer, he finished with the following invaluable question:

“You sell alcohol. How hard can it be to sell alcohol to college graduates in their mid-twenties?”

LISTEN TO THE MAN. He certainly has a point.

His words have been echoing through my busy little head ever since he wrote them. At first, I lol’d. A lot. Then I started thinking more and more about this. Why on EARTH does the wine industry need me to say all this stuff? It really should be simple. I shouldn’t have to constantly reverse engineer the needs, wants, desires, dislikes, etc. of myself, my friends, and others in my generation in order to re-format these things into easily digestible somewhat sporadic how-tos for the world to read (though I do enjoy it quite a bit).  So, really. Why?

Look familiar?

In the time I’ve had to clarify my thoughts on the matter, I’ve come up with an answer to Gary’s question: it’s HARD. And here’s why: Survival. (Tough love is incoming, people. Fair warning.) To clarify, it’s difficult because of the the attitude and image that the wine industry in the United States has carefully cultivated in order to emerge, survive, and thrive over the last 40 years. The inability for the wine industry to change the marketing tactics that it has been using for the last almost-half -century accounts for the failure to appeal to millennial consumers.

In the mid 1970′s, when US wine became an international contender on the wine scene, both wine producers and wine drinkers embraced their (well-deserved) status with evangelical enthusiasm. And as evangelicals do, they sought to prove that Americans could be just as knowledgeable, critical, and refined in taste as their European counterparts. And though I was not around for this incredible time, I believe this image and attitude is exactly what the US wine industry needed to survive.

This is the foundation upon which current wine culture in America is based. Throughout the decades, the industry has not lost the evangelical zeal to display its knowledge and refinement. Marketing campaigns embrace it, wine publications tout it, and wine drinkers from this era flaunt it.

It was effective to market wine in this way to generations 40 years ago – even 20 years ago – but it’s NOT WORKING NOW. For the next generation of wine drinkers, this attitude tends to turn us off. Some people are annoyed by it, some people are intimidated, some people don’t identify with it, the list goes on.

RANDOM STORY THAT THIS REMINDS ME OF: The story of my friend’s grandmother. This woman lived through the great depression as a child with a large family and went through unthinkable hardships: poverty, starvation, the death of young siblings. Though she didn’t speak of this much with my friend, this time weighed heavily on her throughout her long life. When she passed away, my friend and her father went to clean out her home to sell it. When they went into the basement, they found over 20 boxes of canned goods – some recent to some almost 50 years old. Because of her formative years in need, this woman had been buying and hoarding thousands of cans her entire life because she felt that she would someday need them; in reality, however, she had been spending her family’s hard earned money on a misappropriated sense of safety.

I find this very similar to what is happening with the wine industry today. Today’s attitude was created in a time of need – it helped the wine industry emerge, survive, and thrive for years. However, that’s not what it takes to survive today and certainly not tomorrow. Attempting to create new “brand ambassadors” using the same old tactics is proving to be a failure.

EXAMPLE: How many new brand ambassadors from the target millennial demographic did your company’s last full-page, full-color ad in Fill In The Blank Glossy Wine Publication get you?

Too far? Ok, my apologies. Snarkiness aside, clinging to the safety of what has worked in the past is exactly what will torpedo efforts now and in the future. By no means am I encouraging companies big or small to do away with what has gained them their current following. There is value to that approach, but only to one’s current customer base. In other words, to maintenance – not to growth. This is why I’m not suggesting  companies completely amputate this approach.

I do, however, highly recommend that if any company wants a NEW consumer group, that you create a NEW marketing plan for them – separate from your existing plan. This means a new attitude and image for this group. Put in the effort to find the aligned interests of the demographic and of your brand and work from there. If you personally don’t know what I’m talking about, find someone that does. This kind of work won’t be easy at first, but it WILL be worth it.

You’ll know it’s working when it’s no longer difficult to sell your alcoholic beverage to a twenty five year-old college graduate.

Let Your Sales Flag Fly: 5 Tips for Boosting Holiday Direct Sales

As the “O” of O,N,D draws to a close, there’s not a winery out there that’s not feeling the squeeze – or lack thereof.  It seems that smaller wineries and boutiques are hardest hit, with retailers and restaurants alike eschewing these lesser known bottles for product with recognizable names and brand affinity. This doesn’t hurt just businesses in the wine industry – consumers will only have a fraction of the choices they would normally have this season for gifts and special occasion wines. With small businesses losing ground in retail and restaurant environments and consumers looking for more variety, wineries have a chance to make up the loss this holiday season with two magical words: Direct Sales.

At one time taken for granted and simply relegated to the “Wine Club” list, direct sales will be many businesses bread and butter this season. The unprecedented access to new consumers via social media and the significantly higher profit margin of selling bottles at full retail give wineries both the platform and the flexibility they need to be creative and drive sales for the season.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds. There is a tremendous amount of planning, logistics, creativity, outreach, time and effort involved in pulling together a successful direct sales campaign. But the payoff, for this season and for holidays to come, is well worth the effort. Below are a few tips on how to formulate the plan that’s right for YOU.

  1. Assemble a Team and Make the Commitment – Hand-pick a small group of people within the business to help create and execute the plan. These should be people with different skills and interests that you can draw from to build a solid direct sales plan. Once you’ve assembled your team, make the commitment to create a plan and see it through – and ask that they do the same.
  2. Take Stock of Your Resources – Take a good hard look at the resources you have at your disposal, and I mean everything. Take into account  the obvious like your mailing list, wine club, upcoming tasting events, etc., but also think outside the box a bit. Is there an artist in your midst? Is your young tasting room employee a social networking whiz? Have you earned a nickname from the locals? Get your team together and write up a list of these resources. Keep this list in full view while you are coming up with your plan.
  3. Give People a Reason to Buy – It’s not just enough to have the product, you must give your consumers a reason to purchase YOUR product. Is it great pricing? A special bottling? Are you donating some of your proceeds to charity? Is your winemaker signing the bottles? Look to your list of resources and come up with a reason or reasons why people must have your wine.
  4. Create a Full Campaign – Sales campaigns are not just for huge corporations. Gather your team, keep your list of resources in full view and let yourself be a marketing genius. Create a fun and catchy name for the plan, set your goals and timeline, create special pricing or shipping terms, and make sure you have the infrastructure to support everything on your website and in the tasting room. Aside from having all the logistics in place, it’s also important to have FUN while creating your campaign. Using humor is a great way to get people interested in your product and campaign.  The more fun it is for you, the more fun it will be for your potential consumers to be a part of it all.
  5. Use Social Media – If you could push a button and magically reach THOUSANDS of new consumers that you’ve never had access to before, would you use it? OF COURSE. That “magic button” is social media. It doesn’t matter if you’re not on facebook, or don’t understand twitter – find someone who does. There is no reason to deny your business of the successful season you need simply because you don’t “get” facebook. Social media is a tool that businesses must use to get the most out of any campaign. Choose someone intimately familiar with social networks to be on your team and utilize their knowledge and contacts.

It’s not too late to make the most of this of this season for any winery who has the drive. Incorporate these five tips while coming up with your direct sales plan, watch an episode of Mad Men for inspiration, get up, and take the season into your own hands.

Millennials Will Spend the Money – Just Give Us a Reason

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is “Will Millennials spend the money on a $50 bottle of wine?”  Ok, sometimes the price changes, but I’d have to say I answer this at least 2-3 times a week.  The answer is YES, WE WILL.  But in order to spend more money than we normally do on wine (or ANYTHING) there must be a reason for doing so.

This spring, I compiled the data from a survey I conducted online – some of the results from that survey I included in my May 5th post, Where Millennials Are Buying Wine.  I asked over 100 Millennials (mainly residing in Southern California) questions about their wine buying habits.  None of the answers were a big surprise to me, but to many people who are not members of the Millennial Generation, the answers are a real wake-up call.

THE NUMBERS

First we need to know what Millennials normally spend on wine.  From the research based on the informal online survey a baseline was established in terms of the average amount on money respondents spend on a bottle of wine.

Average Amount of Money Millennials Spend on a Bottle of Wine

Almost 60% of respondents spend between $11-$20 on average on a bottle of wine, so we have our baseline.  According to survey results,  giving wine as a gift is one of the main reasons the survey respondents buy wine in the first place (these results to be posted soon).  I know from experience and observation that we tend to spend more money on a bottle of wine when we give it as a gift – and so the question was posed: Just how much are we willing to spend on a bottle of wine – in any circumstance – including as a gift?

Most Money on Wine

Most of us are actually happy to pay $50 and above for a bottle of wine as a gift.  Two thirds of us are willing to go above our typical price range for a gift.  So what does this mean in terms of increasing sales among Millennials?

GIVE US A REASON

Seriously. If you are in the position of selling wine to a Millennial, and you get the feeling that it may be more than this young person is comfortable spending on themselves – suggest it as a gift.  Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Hostess Gift, Birthday Present, Wedding Gift – help them find a reason to spend more money on your wine.  I’ve mentioned this before in the April 3rd post, along with a few suggestions on how to engage young people and build a relationship with them – feel free to take a look and do some brushing up.

Now that the numbers are in, let’s see what we can make happen.

Have you tried this approach with success? Without success?  Are you planning to now?  If you have a related experience you’d like to share with other readers, please feel free to tell us about it in the comments section.  We can all learn from what you are doing.

Reaching Millennials: Don't Believe the Hype – YOU HAVE THE RESOURCES

In keeping up with blogs, research, and ideally all things Millennial, I generally tend to come across well-intentioned but TERRIBLE advice. The latest was on a staffing company’s website encouraging human resource departments to create new, Millennial-friendly corporate handbooks. A fine idea for corporations, but incredibly flawed in execution – which is why I’m pointing out an alternate solution that everyone can use.

To keep things short(ish) and sweet,  I’ve decided to summarize below (though if you REALLY wanted to see the original in all it’s glory, you MIGHT find it in my @millennier tweets, and it MIGHT be under TRAGIC MILLENNIAL ADVICE: PIMP MY CO.S HANDBOOK…).

Everyone in the wine industry can learn from this far too common mistake.

The information was found on the company’s website  from June 2009.  The title of the piece was Create a GenY-Friendly Employee Handbook, and like many of these pieces, it was fairly insulting in an odd, benign way.  In the How to Write a Handbook section, the writer suggests personalizing it with current events and fads in order to really get through to us.  It gives the following suggestion as an example:  “compare customers to stars competing for ‘American Idol’ stardom.” While I realize that we may be younger than the person giving this advice, WE ARE NOT CHILDREN.  We do not need a company to create a mascot and a “let’s pretend” example for every single situation we may encounter in the big, bad world.  While I have plenty to say on this topic, I’m going to stop because the point here is that this NOT GOOD ADVICE.

I do want to say in all seriousness GOOD FOR YOU, STAFFING COMPANY. Thank you for putting in the effort to encourage your clients to support their Millennial employees. Unfortunately, you COMPLETELY MISS THE BOAT.

Not on a boat

Is it a bad idea to want a handbook for a company that will resonate with Millennials and get them excited about the company that they work for?  No. In fact it just might work, if it’s done well.  What will that take?  American Idol allusions?  In depth research on gen Y?  Watching Family Guy reruns from the first season?  NO.  It simply takes a Millennial.  If these companies selected a couple employees in their target group to actually write the new handbook, it would be completely customized to their own tastes and interests while communicating all the information a handbook needs to get across.

I don’t understand this trend.  Business has realized what a powerful consumer group we Millennials are, enough to launch campaigns for millions of dollars just to win gen Y hearts – and yet most don’t even think to reach out to us to help shape these campaigns.

Everyone in the wine industry can learn from this far too common mistake.  Many businesses are creating their Facebook pages, holding events (hooray!), and thinking of new ways to reach out to gen Y.  Yes, research is great – I recommend that you check out the links on the side of the blog for some awesome resources. However, an invaluable tool that we all have ARE THE MILLENNIALS THEMSELVES.  Consult your gen Y children, your neighbor’s kid that’s back from college for the summer, your intern, your new tasting room employee – these people can give you valuable feedback and help to shape each of your projects.  Listen to their critiques, learn from their approach – it will save you time and energy and give you a direct line in to the consumer group you want to reach.

If you want to reach out to gen Y, don’t overlook the Millennials right in front of you – they could be the most valuable resources at your disposal.

The HOW Series 2: Building a Millennial Customer Base

question-mark

A big concern for many of us in the wine industry is price points – will we have to drop prices in order  to make money these days?   Many people associate price drops with the Millennial generation because it’s assumed they buy cheaper wines.  What if instead of dropping prices and hoping to gain sales, a business could build an additional customer base with their EXISTING prices?  A business will have to change a few things in order to create a Millennial customer base, but  prices don’t have to be one of them.  Each Friday I’ll be bringing you a specific tip and serious insight on how to reach out to Millennials as CONSUMERS.  You can put these tips into practice immediately and see for yourself how effective they can be.

Last week we discussed the danger and tendency to generalize an entire generation.  This week we continue our example of the young couple in a winery’s tasting room…

ASK QUESTIONS

This is key.  As a sales person, asking questions is how you find out if your young couple that just walked in the door are looking to buy a $35+ bottle of wine or if you need to guide them.  Keep your questions casual but targeted.  Find out if they are from out of town – if they have taken a special “wine country trip” they may be in the area to buy bottles.  If so, be sure to mention some “insider tips” on wine and buying – they are obviously serious. Ask where they are staying – an old trick for finding out what their price range could be.

As a business owner, you are not only learning more about a group, but you are making a sale creatively and perhaps one that you never expected.

If from your questions you discover that they wouldn’t normally purchase a bottle in your price range, point out a special occasion or a gift possibility.  According to my own 100+ blind survey (stay tuned for full report) the majority of Millennials are willing to spend more on a bottle of wine as a gift, and 80% of Millennials sampled buy wine as gifts. Have you found out why they are in the area?  Is it a vacation? A family wedding? Getaway weekend?  A special bottle that they both enjoy could be a wonderful keepsake for these trips.  Before I even worked in wine, my boyfriend and I had a getaway to the Central Coast where we decided that we’d splurge on a great bottle we loved in order to lay it down and open it the next year.  Suggest that for a special occasion – it’s something they might not be thinking of.  You get the idea.  You can only make these suggestions if you have a working knowledge of who they are and why they are in your tasting room.  The more you know about them, the better you can tailor your sales pitch.

Again, this is a simple and logical step, but one that is not taken by the majority of business owners with Millennials.  It pays off all around.  As a business owner, you are not only learning more about a group, but you are making a sale creatively and perhaps one that you never expected.  By asking questions, you are focusing your attention and not judging them. From their point of view, they see that you are investing energy and time in them and will have a positive experience along with their purchase.  This means positive feedback outside – facebook, twitter, yelp, blogs, as well as good old-fashioned word of mouth.

Congratulations – you’ve started to build a new customer base.