August, 4th 2022
(by Lorenzo Biscontin) An remarkable round table was held on July 14 as part of the Summer School dedicated to Marketing and Innovation of North-East wines, organized in Portogruaro by the MIB of Trieste wine.
I participated to talk about the Pinot Grigio experience and bearing the testimony of what is happening inside the Vinophila metaverse.
The ideas were many and very interesting and therefore it was necessary to let them settle for a few days before trying to find a synthesis and, above all, hypothesize solutions.
Decline in the interest of young people in relation to wine: an old problem.
Many research in the last 2-3 years indicate in a substantially unambiguous way that in all the main consumer markets the share of wine consumers in the younger groups is decreasing (Millennials and “older” Gen Z). It is not only linked to a lower per capita consumption (sporadic, occasional), but mainly to a decrease of the number of people belonging to these segments who drink wine in absolute terms.
Above all, less than the number of people who have other types of classic alcoholic beverages, such as beer and liqueurs and spirits, and innovative, such as Ready to Drink and Hard Seltzer.
It is a crucial element to be taken into consideration because it indicates that today priority of the wine sector over young consumers is not to offer reasons to increase their per capita consumption, but to regain interest in order to broaden the audience of those who drink wine, even sporadically.
To hope that the natural shift of preferences towards wine with increasing age will solve this problem is a very risky scenario, when the audience we start with decreases from year to year. Even more in the current situation of general decrease in alcohol consumption that is becoming more and more consolidated.
It is interesting to note that the relationship between wine and younger consumer groups is a problem that has already been highlighted and addressed since the mid-90s. In that case the young people were Generation X and, if we consider the US, only 8% at the time consumed wine weekly. Today those same consumers are between 40 and 50 years old and the share of regular wine consumers has doubled to 16%.
It is not known to what extent this increase was “natural” or supported by the marketing activities implemented by the industry in the sector.
The fact is that these initiatives stopped about ten years later, also because the results of a 2015 research that attributed 42% of wine consumption in the U.S. to Millennials. This is a striking and surprising figure because … it was wrong, as the Research Institute who made the study declared and corrected a few months after publication (https://wineindustryadvisor.com/2016/03/24/wine-market-council-stands-by-research)
A new communication: getting out of “Expert” single model.
The main culprit of young people’s lack of interest in wine is the way in which it is communicated, both in terms of contents and style.
The speck of Antonio Albanese’s sommelier (Italian comedian who played a sommelier making a lot of funny gestures with the glass before taste the wine, just to say at the end “It’s red) dates back to 15 years ago, we all laughed at it, yet the communication of wine continues to be largely the same: unfriendly, haughty and professorial.
In his interesting speech Giulio Somma, Director of Corriere Vinicolo, wondered if the world of wine should convince young people or follow them. In reality neither one nor the other but listen to them to involve them.
Considering that research on the US market indicates that the criteria for choosing young consumers are sustainability and the experience of the moment of consumption, Somma also wondered whether to communicate all those elements of intrinsic quality (terroir, grape variety, oenological techniques, vintage, etc…)
The answer is yes, but in a different way and the example is provided by Lorenzo Foffani with the wine “Liar” produced by his family estate from merlot grapes vinified in white. An all-round marketing project where the concept of the brand stems from the objective characteristics of the wine and the process, but is declined in a proposal that goes beyond the simple technical description of the territory, grape variety, etc .
In a word, a proposal that is not based on the characteristics of the product, but on the benefits it offers to those who choose it. https://www.adsoftheworld.com/campaigns/a-ripe-time-for-liars
Storytelling has been a very abused word for years also in the world of wine, but in most cases it believes it is telling stories while it is actually listing facts.
Disintermediation, authenticity, fun.
These are the three pillars of the digital society, which are valid, especially for digital natives, also in wine.
Disintermediation means the habit of informing oneself and choosing for oneself. It means the entry into crisis of the figure of the expert in all areas, from politics to wine critic, with respect to their own circles of knowledge, which may also include celebrities to whom they can speak directly on social media.
Authenticity means transparency, fairness and consistency with respect to who we are, to the values that distinguish us and to the positions we take accordingly. Be careful because, speaking of “young” consumers, the risk of taking “youthful” positions by awkwardly trying to appropriate languages and trends is always around the corner in communication agencies and companies. Very dangerous risk because it leads to the realization of clearly false strategies.
Fun that can be pure and simple or take on the most diverse forms: edutainment, gamification, etc … It is no coincidence that consumers under thirty years of age avoid facebook and instead use Tik Tok.
Prosecco and Pinot Grigio.
Two types of wine were also discussed during the round table: Prosecco, thanks to the interventions of Luca Giavi – Director of the Prosecco DOC Consortium, and Diego Tomasi, Director of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG Consortium, and myself for Pinot Grigio.
In the US Prosecco is the only wine that holds in the consumption of young consumers and for Pinot Grigio 24.6% of purchases are made by consumers between 21 and 29 years (source Statista, year 2018).
Prosecco and Pinot Grigio have several things in common, in addition to the common area of origin (by right for Prosecco, in fact for Pinot Grigio). One is that they are little considered wines by traditional wine critics.
What if this was one of the reasons for their popularity? Untied from the usual communication codes, they have maintained a lightness, closeness to the consumer, authenticity, style, which start from the profile of the wine and go as far as communication (or vice versa, if you prefer).
Note that this does not mean that all wines should position themselves and communicate as Prosecco and Pinot Grigio. The adoption of a single model is ineffective whether it is that of the Enosnob or the Socialite.
Each wine / cellar / territory must find and carry out its original proposal. Many will not be wines suitable to interest young consumers and that’s fine. The important thing is that in the variety of the offer, young consumers find proposals with which they can approach the world of wine.
Vinophila: the metaverse.
The round table was an opportunity to share the demographics of the 38,000 unique visitors who visited our site in June alone (women 51.8% – men 48.2%):
18 – 24 years: 13%
25 – 34 years: 25%
35 – 44 years: 24%
45 – 54 years: 19%
55 – 64 years: 13%
over 65 years: 6%
The metaverse therefore confirms the expectations of being an ideal medium to speak to wine consumers of the youngest groups. But if you want the message to arrive, the media alone is not enough: the form and content must be updated.
Note: the full videos of the round table on 14 July will be available in the on-demand room of the Vinophila metaverse