A naked lady riding a bicycle is the image on the label of Cycles Gladiator wine, but marketing to the millennials, the offspring of the baby boomers, requires more than sex appeal. It requires a Net-savvy courtship.
Hahn Family Wines, which produces the Gladiator label in Soledad, has supported and participated in Wine 2.0 Twitter Taste Live and wine blogger forum events. Closer to home at John Tyler Wines in Healdsburg, marketers Katey Bacigalupi and twin sister Nicole spend 20 hours a week on social networking Web sites to promote their wine.
Last weekend was the signature Passport to Dry Creek Valley event, and with more wine events in the months ahead, vintners are keeping an eye on the millennials, a demographic that ranges in age from 21 to 31. Wineries may want to monitor consumption, yes, but they also want to tap into this generation that is now ?driving the wine market as key agents of change,? according to Vic Motto, a wine analyst with Global Wine Partners in Napa..
?Every generation redefines culture,? Motto said. ?The trends toward social networking in part define this generation and the rapid communication of information supports this.?
The millennials are, by all accounts, as information-savvy as a computer chip.
?Despite the information overload of the high-tech age, these new consumers are not overwhelmed by a large quantity of information,? Motto said. ?They are willing to take chances on new things, but they sort them out and filter them very quickly. So, with rapid communication, there is unprecedented consensus about what?s hot and what?s not.?
Motto said his hip ?resident millennial,? Harvard-educated son Scott Becker, tells him one of the most popular Web sites is Cruvee.com. This media-monitoring and networking site helps wineries promote their brands by measuring, interpreting and engaging in online doings. The site?s home page says it ?feeds? information to online sources and offers ?real-time wine consumer insights? to help wineries know who their current market is.
What exactly are sites like Cruvee interpreting? The chatter of course. The rapid-fire conversations on sites everywhere in our global village, like Twitter, Twitter Taste Live and Cellartracker.
Twitter, a social messaging site, has revolutionized the way people communicate ? minute by minute. Twitter Taste Live is a hub for twittering wine tasters, a site that?s a crossroad of social networking and wine tasting. Cellartracker is yet another popular site where viewers browse wines and take part in tasting note forums. It offers a link to Wine Library TV, the video blog of zany Gary Vaynerchuk of Springfield, N.J.
The pulse of the Net is not lost on wineries like Hahn. President Bill Leigon said that ?within the last year our staff members have been immersed in social media as part of their job (twittering, blogging, etc.). We have built a growing online community and following.?
But how does the online wine community translate into real life? What do wineries need to do or expect when 20-something enthusiasts decide to visit the tasting rooms?
?At (Healdsburg?s) Bella Vineyards we can speak from experience in the tasting room that some groups of visitors are walking the line between being good guests and otherwise,? said Tim Nordvedt, wine club director. ?As anyone who has worked in the service business knows, there are limits and rules. We cannot serve anyone who appears drunk and there are some obvious lines of respect for staff and other customers that cannot be crossed. But, from my experience, millennials are very respectful ... When they are out of line, they tend to accept the limits that we ask of them and back down.?