Can the Wine Industry Survive?

It’s Groundhog Day for the wine industry. Last week Rob McMillan, EVP at Silicon Valley Bank and Founder of the bank’s wine division, delivered his 22nd State of the Wine Industry Report, and as expected, the wine industry continues to have a marketing problem. Double Forte touched on this same issue in a blog post last year when we covered his 21st report and our point of view on updating brand personas still stands. Personas are an important exercise brands should go through every 12 to 18 months to ensure you are targeting the right consumers, but more on that later. So, what’s different this year? A Hail Mary pass for empathy.

According to the industry report, consumers younger than 60 have a lower share of wine consumption and younger buyers are increasingly less engaged with the wine category. While there is still growth in the 60+ demographic, that consumer is aging out and younger consumers are turning to alcohol or abstaining from drinking altogether. That means the consumer you may be focusing on today may NOT be your consumer in 10 years.

Just STOP IT! It’s Not Working

If one size fits none, then Rob McMillan’s sage advice rings true: Whatever the wine industry is doing to market to consumers, it needs to stop. It’s not working. Between supply chain, climate change, a shift in demographics and consumer purchasing power and choices, the Wine industry today faces strong headwinds. Wine brands can take control by reassessing everything about their business, operations, product offering and consumers to be more direct and authentic.

Wine brands making an impact today don’t look past their story or brand ethos to buoy their products to a fad or trend in hopes of pulling in younger wine customers. Successful companies – old and new – are updating operations along with an authentic commitment to sustainability efforts; they’re differentiating their product offerings and packaging solutions and finding ways to tell their story to encourage multiple consumer groups to find them and try their products. Bottle age, trellising, acid, pH levels along with diurnal shifts may be important to an older wine consumer but are far less important to a younger consumer. 

So how can the wine industry be more authentic when marketing to multiple demographics?

Find Your Empathy

The brands making a positive shift are demonstrating empathy. Knowing and attracting their target consumer groups means understanding them. These brands know what matters to them in their lives and is meeting them where they are with an updated brand story and product solution. 

We’ve already stressed the importance of building a strong customer persona. Whether you engage with a third party partner like Numerator or download one of the many templates available online, this exercise will help you understand your consumer and demonstrate empathy. Once your persona is updated, pulling key attributes through in every aspect of your brand marketing and PR strategies from design, branding, hospitality and experiences, website, social media, PR and community engagement will help amplify your story as you reach new and important target consumers. Let us know how we can help.