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Wineries…Could Less Be More in Our Quest to Appeal to Millennials?

Rob McMillan’s 2022 Silicon Valley Bank State of the Wine Industry report identified the wine industry’s biggest challenge is appealing to millennials. And…unless we deal with this issue head on, we will continue to lose market share as older consumers age out.


McMillan, named numerous times to the “Top 50 Most Influential People in the US wine industry” explains, “We aren’t hitting the mark on anything millennials value, and yet despite all the evidence, we continue to market the same way we did for boomers.


Even with this information, many wineries continue to read from the old play book, and they spend A LOT of money on the extras. Lots of new oak, big fancy bottles, thick foil capsules, decorated glossy shippers, expensive printed handouts, country club style tasting rooms & events, etc.

While some consumers and some members of the trade may still respond to these wines and the overall “fancy” vibe, many of the younger consumers do not. In my opinion, many of these expenses are unnecessary and may even drive millennials away.


The unique contribution by millennials as consumers is their passion for combining their “money and their mission”. According to Horizon Media’s Finger on the Pulse study, “more than eight in 10 Millennials (81%) expect companies to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship.”


Rob’s SVB report expands even more on what millennial consumers are seeking and how it is impacting the wine industry–


In addition to sustainability, health and environmental issues, today social justice, equity and diversity concerns are driving younger consumers to place unprecedented pressure on companies to adopt these issues into their brand platforms. A brand’s social values are increasingly connected to a consumer’s decision to purchase particular products, including wine.


So…the point is…maybe it makes sense to use less new oak, less glass, no foil capsules, no high gloss or textured paper handouts. And…maybe it makes sense to have more casual events and a diverse, laidback tasting room, while prioritizing social media messaging and building relationships which are largely free!


Over the top luxury stylings and attitudes often scream “corporate”, “boomer”, and “harmful to the environment.” Think about it – you might actually be able to save some money on COGs, appeal to the next generation at the same time while increasing sales, profits and giving back to support social progress making a positive impact in the world.


It’s time to rewrite the old playbook and rethink how we go to market. It doesn’t mean reinventing who you are, it simply means making better choices for all of your customers, for your business, and for your environment.

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