The Millennial Wine Competition
The new generation of wine consumers pay little attention to what a wine scores out of 100. While I understand the importance and tradition of submitting wines to be tasted and scored based on quality – I don’t believe that those ratings carry as much weight as they used to when it comes to young wine drinkers.
The Millennial Competition is changing the way wine, beer and spirits are scored and tasted. By focusing on the millennial generation (approx. 1981-1996 according to the Pew Research Center), this competition gives industry professionals, influencers and celebrities the opportunity to score wines. Wines are submitted by producers and put into blind tasting flights based on varietal. It’s giving wine an entirely new rating system focused on the sensory experience of judges that represent a wide variety of consumers.
By forcing the generation of label-lovers to blind taste and rate wines on a Bronze, Silver or Gold scale – the founders Olivera and Amanda are gathering the most important information of all. Do people enjoy your wine?
As explained in more detail in this Market Watch Mag article, E. & J. Gallo Winery has been investing in the research behind how to successfully market to millennials. According to the article, the generation must be broken down into subsets based on consumer behaviors and beliefs. An attempt to market to all millennials is like trying to market to all Americans. Your marketing will be too broad to truly find your niche.
What the Millennial Wine Competition has succeeded in doing is separating millennials into different consumer subsets, which may overlap for some people, but include wine, beer and spirits. Each alcoholic beverage competition includes judges from a range of backgrounds that may include Sommeliers, Wine Bloggers, Actors, Models or wine nerds with a degree in Viticulture & Enology (me). This business model reaches a range of audiences that may not be the target for wine marketing, but are influenced by the recommendations and scores from the judges. Oli and Amanda have revolutionized the wine rating system and expanded the audience of wine consumers. It’s genius and it was a blast. I had an incredible time trying red wines for my flight virtually with the other judges, as we tasted Cabernets and Syrah/Shiraz from around the world.
How it works
Producers submit their wines to the competition to be judged among blind tasting flights of similar varietals and will receive a score by the hand selected judges. More details on the process can be found on their website here. The wines are scored on a Bronze, Silver and Gold scale individually by each judge and then all of the judges decide on a score that best reflects the group. The labels are hidden to prevent any bias based on if you like or dislike the branding.
Marketing to Millennials
The Wine Experience
Being a millennial, I have focused my career on developing strategic marketing and branding to target this new generation of wine consumers. This dynamic and curious group of wine drinkers wants to enjoy the wine experience. This is how wine bars have drawn in cult followings, because they developed a fine tuned brand and focused on a niche market (check out Melody, Los Angeles and Madalena’s, Perth).
For wine bars this translates into your wine list, the events you host, the producers you highlight on your social media and more. For wine brands and producers, this means communicating your story and what makes your wine special. Define what makes the experience so enjoyable when a consumer opens your bottle of wine. Chisel down your business and define your purpose. Then market the HELL out of it.
How To: Successfully Market Your Wine Brand on Social Media
Defining your target audience is the first step, or else all other tactics will be overlooked. You want to find the audience that every time they come across your posts, they feel that it was created for them specifically. Thoughtful communication is the key to developing brand loyalty.
Keep your branding consistent across all platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Website & of course your wine labels and tasting room marketing materials)
Focus on communicating the wine experience, how does opening your bottle of wine or sitting at your wine bar improve the drinking experience for the consumer?
Engage with your audience on all platforms, consistently
INVEST IN GOOD PHOTOGRAPHY! As a business, make it a top priority to put out high quality content and invest in a photographer if you need to. iPhone cameras are also pretty incredible nowadays
Check out the winners (with prices!) of the 2020 Millennial Wine Competition here.
Of course these marketing tactics can work on all generations, but there is an appreciation for authentic and thoughtful branding among the younger wine consumers. That generation may not be the right target audience for your brand, but understanding what kind of consumer defines your audience and targeting them specifically will create more brand loyalty in the long run.