Embracing Change: The Wine Industry’s Guide to Connecting with Gen Z
By Ana Cahuas
In an industry rooted in tradition, Gen Z is shaking up the vines. With a proclivity for the new and novel, this generation will force the way vintners, distributors, and marketers approach the wine aisle in order to survive.
We’ve discussed the need for demonstrating empathy to reach younger target wine consumers, and here we tackle how that takes shape. Exploring Gen Z’s relationship with wine will allow the wine brands of tomorrow to bridge the gap to new consumers today.
Wine Culture: A New Vintage
Gen Z’s preferences herald a potential renaissance for the wine industry. Unlike older generations, they’re not enticed by the mystique and sophistication of wine culture. They desire a more approachable, less intimidating experience. Gen Z values simplicity and straightforwardness in the language used to describe wine, shying away from technical terms and complex tasting notes and instead gravitating towards easy-to-understand descriptions that resonate with their daily experiences. Bread & Butter wines embrace this approach, using simple, three-word tasting notes on their bottles including “refreshing,” “lucious” and “crisp.”
Packaging: Out with the Old, In with the New
Wine’s classical packaging is getting a modern makeover to appeal to Gen Z. They appreciate alternative packaging like cans and boxes which not only align with their environmental values but also provide a fun, casual and convenient wine-drinking experience. Wine labels that pop and stand out on the shelf also speak to younger consumers – yes, they are judging a bottle by its label. Tank Garage Winery masterfully veers away from traditional branding, displaying eclectic and soulful graphic design on wines with names like “Skateland.” With a dreamy tasting room located in an old gas station in Napa Valley, Tank Garage Winery offers a rejuvenated vintage experience that truly stands out.
Beyond Traditional Wine: Catering to a Diversity in Preferences
Gen Z, as the most diverse generation in the U.S., brings a variety of tastes and preferences to the table. Their openness to different types of wines and wine-based beverages such as ready-to-drink (RTD) wine cocktails reflects a broader palate and a willingness to explore beyond traditional wine offerings. This sense of adventure has paved the way for new trends to emerge, including the rise of natural and orange wines. The modern winemaker pushes the boundaries of traditional winemaking, experimenting with co-fermentation and adding berries, herbs and flowers into the mix. Additionally, the health-conscious mindset of younger consumers has led to the ascent of low-calorie and low-alcohol wines, catering to those seeking a balanced and mindful approach to wine enjoyment.
The Digital Age: Introducing Wine to Digital Natives
Gen Z demands engaging digital content. Having a social media presence across multiple platforms is a must for brands trying to reach younger consumers. Authenticity is key when it comes to connecting with Gen Z, who values transparency and seeks brands that align with their values and interests. Wine brands can show up on social media by sharing behind-the-scenes glimpses of vineyards, winemaking processes, and the stories of the people behind the labels. TikTok is the most popular social media for Gen Z, and while legal regulations limit alcohol brands’ presence on TikTok, it doesn’t mean wine content isn’t thriving on the platform.
In a world where change is the only constant, the wine industry must evolve to stay relevant. While evolution doesn’t mean abandoning tradition, it does call for an unconventional twist. Gen Z advocates for simplicity, approachability, authenticity, and a splash of playfulness in the industry’s approach.