Gen Z & The Wine Industry: The New Generation is all Grown Up

In this fast-paced digital era, it’s important for brands to always think of the next big thing—and move fast on it. In the case of Millennials, the wine industry is only NOW shifting its targeting strategy to appeal to the demographic. Winemakers were definitely late to the party … so let’s not repeat history with the next generation of consumers. The oldest Gen Z-ers are turning 25 next year and even more of them are reaching the legal drinking age (cheers to that!). Neglecting them for another five years would be a costly mistake.

Slowly but surely, brands are going to want to switch their focus from Millennials to this younger generation. Their values align with Millennials but they’re even more woke. They’re seeking transparency, authenticity, and inclusivity from the brands they support. And they have good reasons to be demanding. As the largest and most diverse generation in history, they’re going to bring change to this industry, just like their millennial predecessors.

Here’s how your wine brand can market better to these trailblazers: 

  1. Authenticity is key. Gen Z-ers are always trying to figure out what’s real or not. Be less concerned about acting or being a certain way. If you’re trying too hard, they’ll know right away. With this generation, it’s all about embracing your awkwardness and having a strong personality. You don’t always need well-polished content to appeal to them (#meme culture).
  2. Stand out and value individuality. Take advantage of their desire to be unique in the online world. Encourage them to participate in creative contests where they could get the chance to design your next bottle label. It shows that you value their opinion and could also be a good way to boost engagement. Be different and offer fewer recipes that they have to follow to the T. Leaving some room for ingredient swaps allows them to be creative and add their own flavor.
  3. Celebrate #JOMO. They spend so much time online that they’re less concerned about meeting up with people. Make drinking less of a social event since they value their down time. Create content that encourages them to drink whenever and wherever they want. It’ll make your products attractive, even to the couch potatoes. Break the idea that they should drink wine in a certain way or for special occasions only. Because there’s a change in drinking behavior. Canned wine is becoming popular with an increase in sales by 125.2% between 2015 and 2016, going from $6.4 million to $14.5 million in revenue.
  4. Moderate drinking. Promote any low or no ABV offerings to Gen Z-ers. For them, getting drunk is not cool anymore and they’re more conscious about their alcohol consumption. Tap into the rise of wellness trends by offering low-alcohol recipe videos. Consider using kombucha, juice, or even tea. This is a great opportunity for your brand to own the mocktail space. According to the International Wine and Spirits Record (IWSR), 52% of adults in the U.S. who drink alcohol are either trying now or have tried in the past to reduce their alcohol intake.
  5. Embrace diversity (but for real). They’re an accepting generation with more connection to different races and sexual orientations. You can tap into that by making the industry less white and feminine. This is your chance to shake things up and disrupt the industry’s current ways. Consider including more diverse models in your campaigns—different sizes, cultural backgrounds, genders, etc. Also, think about the language you’re using. Is there opportunity to write ads in another language?
  6. Stand for something. It’s not enough to say you care. Actually DO something. Don’t be shy to highlight some business practices that people may not be aware of. For instance, if you use recycled materials for your packaging, your audience will want to know. Are you using natural or organic ingredients? Brag about it! Global consumption of organic still wine is set to top $1 billion bottles annually by 2022. And in the U.S., consumption is expected to rise by 14% in that period. 

The recipe to hype up these new up-coming consumers is simple and easy to follow—start planning! All eyes are on Millennials right now, so not many wine brands are paying attention to Gen Z-ers yet. Take advantage of this commotion and begin your quest to appeal to the next generation before others catch on. The future is Gen Z, whether they’re invited into the mix or not.