Apr 10, 2019
May 05, 2019
May 19-20, 2019
Young millennial wine drinkers are transforming the way restaurants and other on-premise establishments market wine. At one time, the wine was marketed primarily as an expensive luxury for discerning, sophisticated drinkers. That might have worked well for the Baby Boomer generation, but things have changed for the millennial generation. Younger wine drinkers are much more open to the idea of experimentation and are not nearly as focused on price as the defining factor of a wine’s overall value. And that has opened up many opportunities for restaurants to market their wines.
One major factor that determines whether or not a millennial wine drinker will purchase wine is authenticity. Young millennials are looking for wines with a story behind them. And they are expecting certain wines to speak to them in a voice they understand. When they purchase wine, for example, they are looking for bold, approachable labels that demonstrate the ethos or vision of the brand. And they are much more likely to value the trusted opinion of a friend than the expert of a wine critic or wine expert.
Thus, when it comes to the design and layout of your wine menu, it’s worth keeping these factors in mind. Descriptions of wines on your wine menu, for example, should focus on helping to tell the story behind the wine, and not just focus on the attributes of the grape or terroir. Another way to draw out the authenticity of your wines is by featuring suggestions by the house sommelier or even members of the server team. Guests may not be wowed by a 90+ score by a prominent wine critic, but they will be appropriately impressed if a wine selection is noted as “the personal favourite of the sommelier.”
Given the affinity for brand stories and authenticity by young millennial wine drinkers, it’s perhaps no surprise that social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have emerged as important online destinations to interact with guests and patrons. For example, say that you have an upcoming wine dinner with a prominent local winemaker scheduled. Why not post about that event on social media? Simply posting a photo of a winemaker next to his or her wines, or better yet, a photo of that winemaker walking in the vineyards in the morning can lead to a lot of new signups for your upcoming wine events.
On a related note, there are plenty of ways to play up the skill, savvy and sophistication of your wine team members on social media. On social platforms like Instagram, it’s no longer unusual to see bartenders and sommeliers emerge as stars in their own right. Simply posting about a wine added to your wine list can be a great way to engage guests and encourage them to show up for events or dinners.
If there’s one thing that you can be assured of, it’s that young millennials will take their smartphones with them wherever they go. So make sure that your wine marketing is mobile-ready and mobile-savvy. For example, some restaurants have gone to such extreme lengths as re-designing their interiors in order to become more Instagram-friendly. Others have integrated mobile devices at the point of sale, making it very easy for servers to take orders with just a single tap of a button on a tablet.
And don’t forget about your main website, either. Many young millennials like to download menus before they even leave home. So why not include your wine menu as a downloadable file? Or why not include a section on your website detailing your wine program and what it offers? You might even choose to shine a spotlight on your sommelier or wine director. Let them explain in their own words why they have selected certain wines for inclusion on the wine menu.
One stereotype of the young millennial generation is that they have very little loyalty. Instead of embracing one, big iconic brand as their go-to choice, they like to experiment with new brands and stay ahead of new trends. The good news here is that you can use this fact to attract millennial wine drinkers. For example, if all the other restaurants are still focused on offering California wines from Napa or Sonoma, you can make a stir by offering wine from Southern California. One option might be the up-and-coming Temecula Valley, recently named by Wine Enthusiast as one of the Top 10 wine getaways in the world. Or, if all your peers are still offering heavily oaked Chardonnay wines, you might go against the grain and offer unoaked Chardonnay wines. And, of course, being the first to offer wines made in a certain style (such as “natural wines”) can be a great way to showcase the diversity of your wine list.
Finally, there is a lot to be said for one of the defining aspects of marketing to young millennials, and that is the importance of trusted reviews and opinions from friends. As noted above, millennials tend to place more stock in reviews from a close friend than from a famous wine critic. The easiest way to see this trend in action is with review sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor. Would you be tempted to go to a restaurant that has lousy reviews on Yelp? But think of the opportunities here – simply placing reminders to “Review us on Yelp. Tell others about your wine experience” on restaurant table tops can be a great way to generate word-of-mouth buzz about your restaurant’s wines. In fact, since so many millennials are carrying around smartphones with them when they dine, they might just review you on the spot – and post a photo as well! They are essentially doing your marketing for you, you just need to make it fun and natural for them to do so.
Following the steps above, it will be possible to attract more young millennial wine drinkers to your restaurant. They will appreciate the authenticity of your wine experience and enjoy the chance to try new wines and new wine varietals. Best of all, they will think of themselves as your brand ambassadors, willing to spread the word about your restaurant’s wines to a much larger audience.