It is no industry secret that the trend-following tastes of millennials can be tricky for wine producers to pin-point, with today’s young wine shopper seldom equipped with the knowledge of a seasoned wine connoisseur and instead taking influence from targeted marketing campaigns, word of mouth and overall popularity within their age group.
Though research shows that the over 55’s hold 80% of the UK’s wealth, there is no denying the influence that millennials have and this industry-shaping authority will only continue to grow.
Not only highly ‘influential’, the millennial generation also tends to fluctuate in terms of physical taste. Millennials are statistically the most likely to lean towards sweeter-tasting palettes and this has led to a real spike in popularity for fruit fusion drinks, with wine brands fighting to concoct the most original and pioneering flavour profiles to stay ahead of their competitors and cater to the sweeter inclinations of millennial taste-buds.
Whilst intelligence from Kingsland Drinks’ core analytics platform, WinePRO, using core Wine Intelligence Portraits (consumer groups), indicates that millennials, coined by WinePRO as ‘beginners’ or ‘risk averse’ in terms of the wine trade, are key spenders when it comes to sparkling wines for social occasions, an increasingly high number of these beginner drinkers are now partakers of a ‘drink after a difficult day’ – perhaps a sign of a digitalised generation that is constantly connected and struggles to switch off from the working day. In fact, in the UK, the volume of wine consumed ‘after a difficult day’ is enough to fill 15 Olympic sized swimming pools a year.
For beginner consumers, the relationship with a wine brand no longer simply stops when the bottle is empty; they are now also more likely than generation X (born early 1960s to mid 1970s) to spend time engaging with a brand on social media. The actual wine itself shifts to just a component, as opposed to sole factor, of what makes younger consumers prefer the brand – the brand’s voice and personality are equally as important.
More and more wine brands are creating innovative social media campaigns to build meaningful relationships with their fans and attract new following through competitions, photo sharing and friendly conversation starters. Appealing strategies like these make wine brands, which can often be perceived as intimidating by audiences in their youth, more approachable and more likely to attract younger fans.
Not only taken by an engaging brand voice, but these risk averse drinkers are also increasingly fascinated with the narrative behind the wine, valuing stories and personal connections. With this generation being ‘the information age’, they will spend longer researching a brand’s voice, story and popularity before even contemplating buying a bottle from the local supermarket.
Whilst perhaps unable to craft a 150 year history for a new fruit fusion wine, it is still possible for a wine producer to build a compelling story around its produce, as seen through the steam-punk nostalgia of Mr Gladstone’s Curious Emporium, through its retro confectionary flavours and quirky mascot. Indeed, producers must create a story or character that will captivate inquisitive audiences and provide a narrative as prominent as the wine itself.
With more buying power and trend influence than any other age group in history, wine producers are starting to sit up and take note of the interests of millennials through the creation of dynamic new flavours, nostalgic brand stories and even increasing carbonation lines to cater to the increasing popularity of sparkling wines.
It is vital for wine producers to stay astride of movements such as these and not only create the wine itself, but also an innovative and absorbing narrative to keep ahead of its competitors, and keep the ever-changing tastes of younger audiences interested and loyal to their products.
Neil Anderson is the marketing director of UK bottler and wine producer Kingsland Drinks.