Authenticity. Only for millennials?
Millennials are the most engaged and socially connected generation of all cohorts. They demand sustainability and authenticity in their products. Socially responsible and transparent companies rank high in importance when it comes to their purchase decisions. They demand customization and wide selection. They consume more wine per occasion than all the other cohorts combined.
Thirty-three percent of Millennials say they are motivated to buy more frequently when a friend recommends a wine, but 99.8% say they like any wine better when a friend buys it for them.
One hundred and fourteen percent agree with the statement that feeding one's animal spirits premium wine is better than hitting your toe with a hammer. The remaining percentage believe morning-after flat party beer is good for hydration, so long as there are no cigarette butts in the bottle. When there are butts in the beer, their preference to consume falls to 0.4% with a statistical error rate of +/- 0.4%
Lies and Misdirection
This post started off pretty much like all the other useless crap you see on millennial psychographic traits but quickly degraded. Yes, it's all a lie including the first paragraph, but I wanted to express what I hear in wine marketing presentations regarding our youngest drinking cohort.
Making the newest wine drinking generation seem like they're Vulcan's has been the work of media and researchers who have now tattooed an indelible mark on the subject in the public narrative. (And to reiterate, millennials aren't close to being the largest consuming cohort of wine in the U.S.) Apparently the generation is a Unicorn - unlike any young generation in history. Thank god we aren't yet talking about the i-Generation or as it's otherwise called, Generation Z!
Why would researchers produce all this drivel?
I think the marketing world has gone mad and is leveraging the fear of consumer product companies who are acting out of a survival instinct, concerned that they will miss out on the millennial train; the largest cohort since the boomers who drove retail spending for the past 50 years but is hitting retirement age.
So desperate is the market for the secret Rosetta Stone to engage millennials, billions are being spent to find any consultant with the answers.
To give a sense of the desperation, the Wall Street Journal recently ran a piece on consultants who charge $20k an hour just to help you understand millennial employees. That kind of frenzy is producing a gold mine for consulting companies who are tripping over each other to offer the newest methods and observations so you too can cultivate these consumers of the future.
Question the Motives of Marketing Researchers
For instance, if millennials value sustainability, can anyone really tell me with precision what 'sustainable' means anymore, or how I can use that knowledge to sell them wine? I need a little more transparency here!
I can get a little closer to understanding the meaning of the over-used 'authenticity' term, but are either of those product attributes descriptive only of millennial needs as reports suggest? Don't we all want to have 'The Real Thing,' to coin a very successful marketing campaign from the time when boomers were millennials?
I don't want to hang a bad wrap on all marketing researchers or findings, but I think many times conclusions are delivered with glossolalia spewed sound-bites that appear impressive on the surface and catch headlines. They are just interesting enough to get you to buy their research or read an article. Then when you are done reading, you wonder what you are supposed to do with the findings. For instance, what do you do with the knowledge that millennials consume 0.4% more wine per occasion compared to boomers?
The current narrative suggests millennials have many unifying traits. But far from being able to define overarching behavioral commonalities for this generation, the truth is that millennials aren't close to giving up any kind of a useful common psychographic profile that you can use to market fine wine. Today there is even wide disagreement about when the cohort should even start or end!
That said, no matter which definition we use to start counting the cohort, one undeniable fact is millennials are the most ethnically diverse of all generations, with a good mix of first generation immigrants. There are lots of Hispanics, Blacks, and Asians to go along with the almost equal sized White population.
What this means is all the discussion that links together this cohort based on the common experience of 'digital nativity' is useless hogwash when it comes to marketing. You think otherwise? I challenge you to show me a current reputable study showing a significant difference between Gen X and older millennials in their use of digital technology. What is more obvious is that the young cohort is just growing up, gaining greater financial freedom, and those changes are really impacting their choices.
Millennials Are An Arbitrarily Defined Group
Culture and family experience - how and where you were raised, normally that will trump any other defining common experience, unless we are talking about a world war, or some other universally shared national experience - such as the Great Recession or abusive student debt, and that is a long conversation in and of itself.
Leading edge population researchers are just starting to delve into the possibility the Great Recession is more of a defining characteristic than digital nativity for the youngest wine consumers. Consequently many research firms are now breaking out the cohort into older and younger segments, which is also consistent with the older edge of the cohort now in their 30's exhibiting different spending habits. They have jobs, and that makes a difference in your marketing and their spending!
Interestingly, in almost a catch-22 type of an infinite logic loop, we are told millennials themselves don't like to be stereotyped and they don't trust marketing.
So if there is no unifying behavioral profile for this amorphous cohort, how will we market to this now seemingly arbitrary range of young consumers who will soon be an important buying segment of premium wine?
What do you think?
- Do you disagree with my conclusions? Please weigh in!
- What is your experience with the cohort? The older are beginning to be meaningful wine consumers. Are they that different from Gen X? Are they different from younger millennials?
- Have you evolved your own marketing program based on the public perception and behavioral research on millennials?
- How will you market your wine to this soon to be important wine buying cohort?
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