100 Million Millennials

No Snail Mail Allowed
Push past the shot glasses of yeager bomb and glass bottles of corona and you may be surprised to find a few empty wine glasses scattered across the bar tops of crowded nightclubs. Similar observations may be made at hip and trendy wine tasting events catered to an unexpectedly younger crowd. These events are not promoted by traditional means of advertising. Translation: you won’t be finding any snail mail with script fonts and foil seals here. Websites, digital flyers, email blasts and text messaging all hit hard where it counts with this new and rising demographic.

Are these young hipsters embracing the “Wine REvolution?”

The answer is a resounding YES sounded by the heavy clinking of wine glasses and toasting.

Allow me to introduce myself as a proud member of the Millennial generation. We are your next wave of consumers, and we might just become the biggest driving force the wine industry has seen in three decades.

Meet the Millennial
In brief, the term Millennials is credited to William Strauss and Neil Howe who explain that the term was originally coined by the Millennials themselves. Millennials are also commonly referred to as Generation Y and The Internet Generation. The period of birth for Millennials is controversial and range between late 1970s/early 1980s through 2001. In the eye of the wine industry, the age of the Millennial consumer falls somewhere between 21-28 years (“Generation Y”).

The most prominent characteristic of this generation is their overwhelming use of technology including the Internet, cell phones, text/instant messaging and social networking along with many other forms. According to Reynol Junco and Jeanna Mastrodicasa, 97% of Millennials own a computer, 94% own a cell phone and 90% of college students have a myspace account. These unprecedented figures are highly attributed to the Millennial’s early following and adaptation to technology (“Generation Y”).

More Bang For Your Buck
With the coming emergence of the wine industry in the Internet and e-commerce, the Millennial community is revealing itself as a significant target group for wine consumption. Recent studies indicate that the Millennials are responsible for the steady incline of wine consumption in the United States. The percentage of Millennials who consume wine has nearly doubled in the short time span of two years, growing from 10% in 2004 to 17% in 2006. The United States may become the world’s largest wine consuming country if the collective trend in growth continues (Heeger).

In an article in the The New York Sun, Peter Hellman presents Tyler Colman, creator of DrVino.com, who describes wine as “the new black” for Millennials. According to Colman, “(Wine provides) a lot more return on your social investment than beer.” More and more bottles of wine frequent the tabletops at Saturday night dinner parties replacing red plastic cups of bargain beer. A student survey conducted at Columbia Business School revealed a strong majority who felt quality is more important than quantity, and wine overall provided more “bang for their buck”. In addition, wine is becoming the preferred choice of social beverages due to its healthful benefits.

Darryl Roberts, publisher of Wine X Magazine, addresses the rising phenomenon in Millennial behavior and argues that the habits people engage in while in their mid to late twenties lay the foundation for lifelong consumption habits. Moreover, Roberts points out that while most Millennials do not have specific brand loyalties established they have enormous disposable income and a hunger to explore and experience new products.

Considering that the Millennials are comprised of an astounding population nearing 100 million people, it may be worthwhile to get to know this new and rising customer. Public relations agency Ketchum estimates the Millenials’ buying power at a tremendous $172 billion which is projected to continue increasing as Millenials’ gain more recognition in the work force (Clark).

Hot On Their Trail
Sacre Bleu is a leader among wine brands who are quickly catching on to this new opportunity. Their target group is hard marketed towards 21-28 year olds and they are hot on their trail. The name itself “Sacred Bleu” is pulled from French slang “Holy Crap” which they explain as an expression of amazement. On the splash page of their website is a bold “ENTER” button and beneath it reads “No fake ID’s here. You must be 21 to enter” alluding to rules of the nightlife common to most Millennials. A small link to Sacre Bleu’s MySpace account is also readily accessible.

Within their website, Sacred Bleu touches the Millennial consumer’s desire to explore and reads “We want you to discover us and explore not only what wine is but where it can lead.” It further prompts its visitors to share their artwork (graphic art, photography, music or even absurdity) to “showcase innovative, aesthetic.”

Sacred Bleu’s MySpace account also demonstrates a marketing technique which is growing in popularity to reach its Millennial consumer. MySpace is at the top of the food chain for social networking websites. It allows its users to create a personal profile to share interactively with a network of friends. Sacred Bleu’s personal account information is displayed as a 23 year old female from Minneapolis. Their website is filled with photos of trendy venues and beats from over a dozen artists such as Fiona Apple, Flaming Lips, and Tenacious D.

In his article The Millennials Take Centerstage, Jim Clarke explains how necessary it is to reconsider lifestyle advertising to reach this unique demographic. Whereas with Generation X, wine enthusiast magazines pumped with “winespeak” ads could sell an esteemed brand, the Millennials are often not receptive to traditional methods of advertising. (Clark) Lifestyle advertising is a marketing technique in which the user is presented as opposed to the product. Hence, advertisers such as Sacre Bleu push their brands to accommodate the lifestyles of their consumers (“Lifestyle Technique”).

Roberts further supports this argument stating “…the best way to reach, emotionally engage and retain loyal customers, when they’re in their 20s, is to put your product in their hands in an environment that they feel most comfortable in. Then make sure that you reinforce that positive experience with advertising and/or other supportive methods-email blasts, text messaging, print ads in the magazines that they read etc. If you do this, if you engage the 20-something consumer with your product, you will not only sell them your product now, you’ll create brand loyalty and sell it to them for the next 50 years.”

Keep Your Eyes and Your Ears Open
With over 100 million Millennials and counting, the presence of this unique demographic will undeniably be felt if it hasn’t already hit you. Keep your eyes and your eyes open and be ready for the Millennials.

Works Cited
Clarke, Jim. “The Millennials Take Centerstage.” Wine Review Online. 13 June 2006. 7 June 2007. http://www.winereviewonline.com/clarke_on_milennials.cfm

“Generation Y.” Wikipedia. 6 June 2007. 7 June 2007. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Y

Heeger, Jack. “Boomers, Millennials boost wine consumption.” The Napa Valley Register. 8 February 2007. 7 June 2007.
http://www.napavalleyregister.com/articles/2007/02/08/features/food_and_wine/

Hellman, Peter. “For ‘Millennials,’ Wine Is the New Black.” The New York Sun. 9 May 2007. 7 June 2007. http://www.nysun.com/article/54113

“Lifestyle Technique.” Advertising Glossary. 7 June 2007. http://www.advertisingglossary.net/definition/1677-Lifestyle_Technique%C2%A0%C2%A0

Sacre Bleu Wine. Home Page. 7 June 2007. http://www.sacrebleuwine.com/

Sacre Bleu Wine. MySpace. 7 June 2007. 7 June 2007. http://www.myspace.com/sacrebleuwine

Source: ReThink Wine Blog http://blog.inertiabev.com/

By Jennifer Cheng.