Editor’s Note: This is the first of at least 52 posts for the Good Grape blog over the next year.
While tasting at yesterday’s Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP) Festival, I came across an interesting new brand that is targeting their wine squarely at the Millennial Generation. Muse Winery has launched this wine as “Mingle” and not the more expected “Zinfandel” because the Millennial buyer is looking for different wine taste experiences and is more tolerant of unconventional blends than their Baby Boom parents. Mingle delivers on the different blend front with Zinfandel being joined by Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon instead of the more common Petite Sirah and Carignan. The result is quite nice with forward black cherry fruit, a touch of black pepper and smooth tannins. I rated it a very good 86 on the 100-point scale. It’s not just the wine, but also the packaging, that will appeal with this demographic as Muse has created a colorful label, unconventional bottle shape and “Peel, Pop and Pour” cork closure last seen on inexpensive sherry and port.
For readers not familiar with the Millennial Generation, I’ll back up and give you some background. Born between 1979 and 2002, Millennials follow GenX and The Baby Boom in the generations since WWII. Now coming of drinking age in large numbers — they are 100 million strong in total — this generation is the first to get into wine in a big way since their parents Baby Boom cohort. Unlike their parents, they are not looking for status wines or cellaring, preferring instant gratification. Wine should be unpretentious and just good to drink with Millennials who also look for food friendly wines. They are also squarely in the value category from a price perspective with the sweet spot being between $10 and $15 USD a bottle.
From a marketing perspective, Millennials present several opportunities for wineries. Since they are really just looking for a pleasant beverage for enjoying with food, scores and awards are not important. This means no brand building in the pages of Wine Spectator, Decanter or Wine Enthusiast magazines. Millennials are also the most wired generation, never knowing a time without the internet. This presents the wine marketer with the opportunity to market online and add social media to the mix. I’m currently working with a consulting client on launching a brand to this generation and a My Space presence and podcast are key elements of our marketing plan. We are also spending time on simple, colorful and attractive labels, unique bottles and Stelvin twist-off closures.
So it’s not business as usual selling wine to Millennials but it is pushing the state of the art for wine marketing forward. Anything that compels wineries to embrace blogs, podcasts and online communities is alright with me.