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July 7, 2021

Marketing to Millennials w/ Damien Wilson, Sonoma State University

Marketing to Millennials w/ Damien Wilson, Sonoma State University

Part two of our interview with Damien Wilson, Hamel Family Chair of Wine Business at Sonoma State University, focuses on what wineries can do to align their brand, marketing messages, and how they sell wine to Millennials. From hospitality to various mark


Part two of our interview with Damien Wilson, Hamel Family Chair of Wine Business at Sonoma State University, focuses on what wineries can do to align their brand, marketing messages, and how they sell wine to Millennials.  From hospitality to various marketing channels, with social media, Damien provides examples of what works and tips on what to do.  This episode also includes a “lightning round” where Damien and Peter discuss some of the major trends in wine marketing. 

Detailed Show Notes: 

  • Millennial Wine Buying - tips for wineries
    • Limits on brand loyalty/retention mean wineries need to make more customer acquisition
    • High price points will put off younger consumers
    • Low-end wine brands (e.g., Charles Shaw) are not targeting Millennials well - they appear to be more about consumption (e.g., Carlo Rossi jug wine, Bag in a Box brand) vs. Millennial values
    • Seltzer likely hitting a peak as the category is starting to fracture and fragment with many new brands and brand extensions
  • Hospitality best practices
    • We need to be better at the digital era
    • Wine industry good at talking about the product and quality (e.g., winemaking, terroir, product characteristics) but needs to know how to get people to the glass before what’s in the glass
    • Responses from wineries on social media are very slow or unresponsive
      • Good examples
        • Jason Haas of Tablas Creek in Paso Robles - very responsive, got back to Damien in 10 minutes of tagging, Jason responds himself
        • Nicole Rolet of Chene Bleu
        • Randall Graham - remains relevant but admits to not figuring out how to make money from social media 
        • Macrostie - has 12 different locations in their facility with different experiences - creates a reason for people to come back
      • Tagged 27 wineries on a trip to Paso Robles, and only 2 got back to him (1 of which was Tablas Creek)
      • Automated monitoring can help - so people get notified when activity occurs
  • Millennials have a strong attachment to people behind the brands and ones that reflect their values
  • Millennials ask questions, and they will tell you what they like
  • Marketing channels that work
    • Social media
    • Retail with smaller producers/experiences (e.g., Whole Foods showcases smaller producers and is more experiential shopping)
  • Marketing Lightning Round w/ Damien and Peter
    • Augmented Reality - “brilliant” according to Damien, cost of adoption is falling, e.g., 19 Crimes and Snoop Dog Rose
    • Natural / “Clean” wines - a way to premiumize lower-end wines with marketing; natural wine suffers from lack of consistency, making it harder to adopt; Clean wines - unsure if success is related to clean or celebrities that back them
    • Low/No Alcohol / No sugar wines - could work if they get people into the wine category, likely more a niche long-term
    • Celebrity wines - will likely grow but needs to be authentic - e.g., Kim Kardashian was behind a vodka brand but didn’t drink, which turned people off of the brand
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