Relying on current sales and current customers is a recipe for fizzling out. Your business can’t just be profitable. It’s also got to be sustainable.

One of the biggest challenges for winery owners right now is knowing how to market to the next generations. So many wineries rely on Baby Boomers to buy their wine and join their wine clubs.

Right now, most wine is consumed by Baby Boomers. But it’s not going to stay that way.

An article in Wine Spectator quotes Rob McMillan, senior VP of Silicon Valley Bank’s wine division:

“We have 10,000 [Baby] Boomers a day that are hitting retirement. And they’re being replaced by financially disadvantaged people. The tradeoff isn’t good.”

Here’s what’s happening.

By 2021, Generation X will take the lead in wine consumption. However, this won’t last long because Gen Z is made up of only around 50 million people, compared to the 75 million Baby Boomers and 80 million Millennials.

So just five years later, in 2026, Millennials are reported to become the largest generation of wine drinkers.

Are you ready for this huge shift?

The average wine consumer will change drastically over the next eight years. And this isn’t bad! It just means your marketing strategy will have to evolve, too.

marketing wine to millennials

How to market to Millennials and Generation Z’ers

Millennials (born between 1981 and mid-1990’s) and Generation Z (born in the mid-1990’s to mid-2000’s) are different than previous generations because of their preference for all things digital.

While Baby Boomers and Generation X grew up with traditional media talking at them – Billboards, radio, TV – where there was zero interaction between brands and consumers, Millennials and Generation Z now expect interaction and a personalized experience.

Think of a dinner party where the person next to you talks about themselves the entire time and never asks you a question. This is how Millennials and Generation Z’ers view most brands.

Now think of the same dinner party where the person next to you asks you questions, and you also ask questions and it leads to a conversation. This is a much enjoyable dinner party for all involved. This is how Millennials and Gen Z want the online brand experience to be.

In terms of marketing, this means shifting from conventional advertising to content marketing strategies like email marketing and content creation.

marketing wine to millennials

Here’s another way to think about it: There’s a marketing saying, “Know me. Like me. Trust me. Buy from me.”

Each generation goes through these marketing stages in a different way.

Thirty years ago, it was about getting people to come into a physical store to make a purchase. Their customer journey went something like this: A consumer found out about companies through newspaper ads, television, billboard or radio, then went to the store, talked to the salesperson about the product, bought the product, and used it. The product worked, so they became repeat buyers.

Since Millennials and Generation Z are so digitally focused, they want this same customer journey to play out online.

Brands need to think of the entire online customer journey, so that customers can know their brand, like them, trust them and ultimately buy.

Who are Millennials?

For a host of cultural and historical reasons, Millennials prefer to spend their money on an experience or an event, not just a product. They’re socially conscious and prefer to collaborate with others and with brands (which is why social media is so important to this generation).

millennials marketing wine

They’re idealistic, inclusive and want everybody to win.

Their favorite way to communicate is by text or messaging. When making purchases, this generation is heavily influenced by social media ratings, friend’s thoughts, reviews, and recommendations.


Convenience is King for Millennials. If they see a photo of a product, they expect that they can immediately purchase it online.

This generation is also all about loyalty, and they want to be rewarded for it. They love loyalty programs and subscription boxes. Millennials are about twice as likely to use a subscription service as other generations.

Who is Generation Z?

Generation Z grew up knowing how to swipe a smartphone before they could walk. This generation, around 86 million in size, is known for liking privacy and finds more value creating things instead of watching or sharing. They prefer to communicate with images over text.

Since this generation is so young, their buying power is estimated at $176 billion per year, but research has shown they have influence over their family’s purchases. This generation grew up during the recession and are known for their love to save and looking for deals.

marketing generation z

While Millennials are all about texting, Generation Z prefers to communicate with each other through images, videos and emoji. Social media channels that appeal to this generation include Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. If you’re targeting Generation Z with a digital ad, use an image and 5 words or less of text.

They love the process of creating images and content, and they love to show others how to do something. This is why YouTube is their platform of choice. 95% of Generation Z uses YouTube and are particularly attracted to how-to content, like applying beauty products or gaming.

Real people, like YouTube stars (not just celebrities or brands) can create and distribute content, which lets Gen Zers feel like they’re getting a real, authentic experience. With Gen Z being all about authenticity, they prefer things that look less produced and more real.

Why it’s tricky to reach these two generations

Both of these generations have a short attention span: Millennials have about 12 seconds and Generation Z have only 8 seconds.

Traditional forms of advertising just don’t work with either of these generations.

Millennials particularly hate aggressive sales pitches, traditional media, and long-form content, while Generation Z does not like major celebrities nor promoted content. Plus, Generation Z doesn’t want to be tracked and prefers to remain anonymous.

Generation Z is known as the hardest generation to engage, because they tend to look past messages that say promoted or sponsored. They instead want personalized messages and experiences that are unique only to them.

How to target each generation

If you are targeting Millennials, host events that will increase interaction like live events, experiences, and online contests. Plus, build a loyalty program.

Make sure your brand is on review sites like Google Business and Trip Advisor, and respond to all reviews (both good and bad).

Generation Z likes to find deals online and Millennials prefer apps for discounts, like Groupon.

Both generations love video.

We often tell our clients that video produces more online conversions than any other content, across multiple generations. For Millennials, they consume video across several social media channels, like Instagram. Brands wanting to reach Generation Z can use YouTube with short, 6-second video ads.

Both generations are socially responsible and prefer to research online before making decisions. This is good news for marketers, because brands can make sure they participate in ratings and reviews. Plus, you can communicate your benefits on online.

Optimize your mobile experience. Make sure your website is responsive. 75% of Generation Z rely on their smartphone for their entire web experience, including purchases.

To better deliver a customized experience, segment your email list into different age groups and market different content to different users.

Another key tool for these younger generations is for brands to work with Influencers. They often require a flat fee or a percent of commissions for users using their code at checkout. They tell their fans about your product and off giveaways or contests with your product. Building a relationship with an influencer is important and should not be a one time thing.

You can find influencers for your brand through Ninja Outreach, Snap Influence and Keyhole.

Here’s the gist

Both Millennials and Generation Z want to have a conversation with your brand online, not just be talked at.

Brands need to consider the online customer journey across all web and social media platforms.

Rather than shying away from these next generations, think about how you can build community online and create a brand that younger generations can interact with, know, like, trust and buy from.


Not sure if you’re poised to attract Millennials and Generation Z?

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