To the Wine Community at Large:
I write to you as a firmly established member of what is typically called the “Millennial Generation” and I have a bone to pick. Mainly it is a result of a recent phenomenon in the community, one I like to refer to as the “dumbing down of wine.” It seems to be an increasingly popular opinion that in order to bring wine to younger and newer audiences, wine needs to be brought down to “our level”. Unfortunately for the marketers it is almost instinctive by now that we will reject most things that people attempt to target to us. We like to adopt things ourselves. Look at the successes and failures in mainstream viral marketing. Most things that succeed do so because young people want to have them, not because they were told they need to have them.
Wine doesn’t need to change the way it is, but it does need to change the way young people are told about it. Some believe that wine has to be trendy or cool or fun or marketed like beer and hard alcohol to become popular with young people. They point to trends in marketing in music and magazines and tech gadgets and tailor their wine approach to these same tactics. The problem is that they are missing the ways in which wine has a competitive advantage.When it comes to young people, wine will never win a competition with beer or hard alcohol on trendiness or shock value or sex appeal. It’s like marketing a horse by telling people its a cow because you think cows are what people want.
I’d like to let you in on a little secret about young people. Just around the time we reach legal drinking age we also start to have a desire for sophistication or a desire to be seen as an adult. We’ve done a lot of moving on from our teenage years and, contrary to popular belief, the majority of us are not a bunch of binge drinking, hard partying, pierced, and tattooed hooligans as we are portrayed in the press. The majority of young people today are smart, ambitious, inquisitive, and above all we’re sophisticated and discerning consumers (even if we’re not yet, we like to think so). This is where wine can compete. Make us feel sophisticated, after all this is one of the ways it is marketed to adults. Wine is a complex and beautiful drink with a great history and a great culture. This is something a lot of the Millennial Generation would love to learn about but the marketers don’t think we want to learn the story. Sure we have our idiosyncrasies and like cool stores, but most of all we want to be treated like the adults that we are. We don’t like to be talked down to, we are willing to ask if we don’t know something, and we certainly don’t like it when older people feel they have to dumb stuff down for us.
Truthfully, millennials shun wine because:
- the price point of good wine is a bit high
- no one has really attempted to market wine to us in the middle ground (Meaning someone needs to meet the millennials with a good wine at a decent price and speak to us at a level somewhere between wine kindergarten and hoity-toity wine college).
I feel I may be getting a bit drawn out, but for now I’ll leave you with this:
- We hate when marketers treat us like we have no attention span or sophistication. Speak to us like the adults that we are and please please stop the race to the bottom when it comes to marketing wine to Millennials.
- Stop dumbing it down to broad-reaching food pairing suggestions and one flavor wine descriptions. We are interested and we want to learn. If you want to sell us wine then be willing to teach us and to take time with us. Part of wine’s appeal is it’s complexity, let’s not lose that for the sake of selling out.
- Finally, if you want to integrate some of the things we enjoy like social networking and other technological concepts, why not get a member of our generation to help you. Please don’t have a member of an older generation try to create products for us without our input. Remember how cool you thought some of the things your parents created were?
I would like to say that I do appreciate the strides that are being made in the wine world. Hopefully with a little input from young people the incredible culture that is wine can spread even further.Tags: Marketing, millennial