Millennials, Mindsets & Money … and Selling Wine Online. Part 1

Millennials buying wine onlineNote: This is Part 1 of a 2-part post on our study on selling wine online to Millennials. This post presents background on the wine industry and the rationale for doing the research. Part 2 toplines the key findings and marketing strategies guided by the research. The wine category is one we are researching for our Millennials, Mindsets & Money initiative.

How would you compete in a $40 billion industry with over 8,000 competitors? One where the top 3 firms control nearly half of the US market, and the top 8 control 60%, leaving thousands upon thousands battling for fractions of the remaining 40%? Complicating matters: most of these businesses can’t get retail distribution; most don’t advertise; barriers to entry are very low; and the number of competitors increases yearly. That’s the US wine business.

Most Wineries are Small Businesses Competing Like Crazy

For all of wine’s glamour, the lush valleys, the terraced hillsides, the local foods and award-winning restaurants, the well-appointed tasting rooms, event spaces, inns and spas, the reality is that the overwhelming majority of wineries are small- and mid-sized businesses working passionately and very, very  hard to make and sell their wines in an incredibly complicated and mind-boggling competitive market.

Direct-to-Consumer Sales are their Lifeblood

Most wineries depend on revenue from wine sales in their tasting rooms, wine club memberships, and events. These direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales depend on wine tourism, where people come to the winery, taste, and buy. But wine tourism, though big, is under attack as communities oppose new winery development and expansion plans, potentially applying a brake on their sales engines. And industry consolidation at all levels makes it tougher every day.

The good news is that the online wine channel is poised to become more important than it has been. Direct shipping, accounting for about 2 percent of wine sales last year; grew roughly four times faster than retail wine sales overall, although the base is quite small. Direct sales represent a promising revenue source, one that can help wineries tackle their daily challenges, bolster their short-term financial position, and help assure their long-term viability.

Our Research: How Can Wineries Increase their DTC Sales to Millennials?

Wineries know more about navigating tasting room and wine club sales than they do the new frontier of online sales, which many offer but have less experience with. Given the growth of e-commerce and the march of Millennials into the wine category, Howard Moskowitz and I decided to include it in our Millennials, Mindsets & Money initiative. We set out to crack the code of Millennial online wine buying – what do you say, how do you say it, who do you say it to – so that our work could guide wineries to sell effectively online, grow their revenue, and improve their business results.

I’ll have the findings posted in a couple of days. If you’d like to learn more, just drop me a line.

Research Sponsored by Nomacorc

Nomacorc sponsored the research for Millennials, Mindsets & Money. Nomacorc is one of the world’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of wine closure systems. Nomacorc provided access to their clients and prospects, which helped us understand their business issues and decide on the research topic, and they provided subject matter expertise during the design phase of the research. Nomacorc was not involved in the research fielding or analysis preferring, instead, to let the research speak for itself.

Author: stephenrappaport

I write and consult on achieving brand growth. I serve as the Global Digital Advisor for Sunstar, Inc., a global manufacturer of consumer products. I am a Senior Fellow at Wharton’s SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management, and the author of 3 books on digital marketing and measurement.

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