Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Millenials vs. grocery store wines

Courtesy PsyBlog
Last month a wine buyer for a major northern California grocery store chain made this observation at Wines & Vines' packaging seminar.

"Baby boomers are still driving volume. They come in and buy six wines and don't ask about them," said Curtis Mann, wine & spirits buyer for Raley's Family of Fine Stores.

"When a millenial asks a question, it's usually, 'What is the difference between these 4 Italian Pinot Grigios?' The reality is there isn't much difference."
 -- Mann

A baby boomer would say, Meet the new Pinot Grigio; same as the old Pinot Grigio.

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Mark Andrew Sinnott said...

Blake I am curious, do you think this is because Millenials actually consider themselves more knowledgable about wines and thus do not want 'general advice' from wine store (or grocery store wine section) workers? Or somms for that matter? Or is something else at play?

I will tell you from personal experience that when I go into a grocery store that happens to have a decent selection (e.g. QFC in WA State, Whole Foods or even Safeway for that matter, etc) I really don't want to be bothered unless I am looking for something specific, which is usually not the case. Some could interpret this as indifference, but in reality I simply like to explore on my own, and ask questions only when I have something specific in mind. While I am not a Millennial (I am 43) I can relate to the mindset. Curious as to what your view is.


Unknown said...

I see a greater sense of curiousity rom the millenial generation when it comes to wines. They want to learn more about the wines, but don't just take the somms' recomendation on faith. We are going to have to get used to that. The baby boomers generation assumed we are experts, the Millenials are going to challenge that fact with really good questions. The PG point is valid, retailers will have to start looking at diversity in their sets to appease this generation. How about a Pinot Gris from oregon instead of anothe italy PG. Or a cab from somewhere like Lodi or Paso instead of #200 from Napa.
Millenials will be asking the question why while Boomers don't like change.
Just my thoughts...

W. Blake Gray said...

Mark: I can't speak for a generation (I'm not Hanna Horvath). But I know what you mean about sometimes not asking questions. Last night I let a bartender make me drinks without even asking because she knew what she was doing. But in some cases, I can tell when somebody doesn't really know the topic, and then I'd rather not ask because I don't want to embarrass both of us by not taking their suggestion (especially if it's "this is very popular.")

Emily H. said...

As both a millennial and a wine retailer, I feel that it is appropriate to comment. I'm not sure that millennials as a whole feel that they're more knowledgeable about wine, but those that are in the food/beverage industry are. I don't seek help at other stores because I don't want to be sold to. I know a good deal when I see one and don't need someone unloading overstocked California red blends or whatever other popular category they're wanting to sell. The assertion made by Ms. Horvath is valid: there isn't a whole lot of difference among Italian Pinot Grigios, but I would use it as a discussion point to show someone Oregon or Alsace Pinot Gris or German Grauburgunder that shows real character and aromatic interest. I think, though, that this speaks more to the category of Italian Pinot Grigio than it does to millennial-targeted sales strategies. Millennials are interested in compelling background stories for the premium-level categories of wine, likeability and price for everyday-drinking type wines, and are definitely more adventurous and open to trying new things in our in-store tastings. We also live/work in a state without grocery store sales, so we already have the advantage when it comes to establishing an on-going dialog with our customers and getting feedback on their preferences. Frankly, I find the whole "what to do about the millennials" sale strategies amusing. I think that marketers don't think very much about us is they think that graphic labels and stupid niches (low-cal wines, for example) are going to win us. To me, it smacks of flailing to make a quick buck instead of a prolonged strategy to wine loyal customers. Millennials are probably the most resistant to sales strategies, so they should stop trying so hard.

Anonymous said...

The key point this quote makes, I think, is that my peers (I'm at the upper cusp of the millennial generation) expect information, know how to manage it, and have little tolerance for its being disingenuous. I see lots of insulting responses to that mindset -- brands that are trying to drive "engagement" with "stories" with flashy image-driven marking relatively disconnected from the actual product -- but I hope that the response to questions like these will be a gradual move away from the safe and generic in grocery store selections to wines that can, in fact, be explained.