Can there ever be a panel discussion on the Business of Wine without addressing the issue of marketing to millennials versus marketing to baby boomers? That issue was central to the Business of Wine panel discussion that took place at the Wine Bloggers Conference in the Finger Lakes District of New York last week-end. The panel included Kathy LaTour of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, Monika Elling of Foundation Marketing Group and Zach Milne-Haverty of Beverage Trade Network.
It isn’t a new conversation. We’ve all heard it many times. The trend in wine marketing is to market to the millennials. As a boomer and enthusiastic wine consumer, I find that trend more than a little insulting. But the reasons given for this trend make it even more curious.
Millennials are marketed to not because they are driving sales, but because they are driving trends. Who is driving sales? Boomers, of course. Millennials are marketed to because they like to experiment with different wines versus boomers who are more likely to have brand loyalty. But if millennials like to experiment, then why would producers ever hope to build brand loyalty with them? Wouldn’t it make more sense to spend marketing dollars on building excitement about trends in wine with the people who are spending money on wine? These questions were asked at the conference. The ugly response was that millennials had more years of wine-buying ahead of them. All I can say to that is, ‘We’re feeling much better.’