Representing some $200 billion in annual spending power, the millennial buyer holds unlimited appeal for marketers. As businesses shift their focus from Generation X to millennial shoppers, many industries are grappling with the changing needs of today’s buyer. Nowhere is this more evident than the beverage industry, where wineries and distributors are scrambling to understand how to most effectively market alcohol to these consumers.
Understanding Evolving Perceptions
Historically, much of the American public has seen wine as a celebratory drink to be enjoyed at special events or alongside a decadent meal. According to AdWeek, 7 out of 10 adults do not drink wine regularly. And yet, some of the industry’s largest players are witnessing a notable increase in consumption patterns as millennials eschew beer in favor of wine. Unlike their parents and grandparents, however, wine isn’t viewed as an upscale drink, but rather, a relatable beverage to be enjoyed daily.
Wine producers have responded with gusto, producing more affordable wines and embracing the adventuresome spirit of millennial consumers. This shift is partly responsible for making the United States the largest wine consumer (volume) in the world, replacing France for the first time.
Rethinking the Marketing Message
Studies have shown millennials are relatively brand loyal, eager to engage with their favorite companies via social media, and increasingly turning to the web to make buying decisions. These trends greatly impact how wine marketers need to think about selling their wares. The product itself is also evolving, as producers turn to single-use glasses, packages, boxes, and even cans. Millennials have continually demonstrated their willingness to embrace new ideas in the world of wine, in stark opposition to older buyers who have shown strong resistance to leaving the glass bottle behind.
Preparing for Increased Demand
The Wine Market Council reports that wine-drinking millennials are increasing consumption year over year, and while millennials only represent 29% of the total market, they consume 34% of the product. The consumption increase has been so notable that some within the industry feared an impending shortage in late 2013. While shortage fears have largely been assuaged, many industry players feel the numbers will continue ticking upwards, creating plenty of movement within the brewing and distribution spaces.
For small wineries and distributors looking to ride the wave of the future, it’s important to carefully monitor how millennials are consuming wine and make changes accordingly. As demand rises, more businesses will likely attempt to enter the industry, increasing competition and giving consumers even more options to consider. To keep sales strong, wine sellers need to consider embracing alternatives to the expensive bottles of yesteryear, making room for lower-end products that are accessible for millennials looking for a refreshing beverage to enjoy with a burger and fries.
With over half of the adult population now connected to a social media network, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of the social web for digital marketing purposes. Many entrepreneurs and small business owners struggle to juggle the responsibilities on their plate, however, and social marketing often falls to the very bottom of a long to-do list. If you can’t commit to spending endless hours working on your social marketing campaign, don’t despair. Instead, learn to maximize your efforts by identifying the networks that will best serve your business.
Tackling the Large Networks: Facebook and Twitter
Much of the attention surrounding social media focuses on Facebook and Twitter, and with good reason. According to the Pew Research Center, 71% of all online adults have an active Facebook profile. Twitter has a smaller user base, but its attracts a more diverse crowd of social influencers. Both platforms can generate real results for a grassroots marketing campaign, and with so many users already connected to these networks, it makes logical sense to join the crowd. As the old adage goes, meet your customers where they’re at—in the digital age, they’re on Twitter and Facebook!
Joining Niche Social Networks: Demographics are Key
Defining your target audience falls under the auspices of Marketing 101, but many business owners forget to consider the demographics of social media users. For example, 90% of Instagram’s 150 million users are under the age of 35. Technology groups, apparel designers, and entertainment brands achieve great results on this network, but you’ll have lackluster results if trying to connect with a middle-aged consumer.
The demographics of the average social user can reveal a great deal about a particular platform’s potential for your marketing strategy. Spend some time getting familiar with networks like Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube before you commit to maintaining a new profile. If your target audience isn’t already using these platforms, it doesn’t make sense to expend your energy here.
Identifying Important Industry Leaders
Social proof can make or break your business, which is why it’s essential to develop a proactive strategy for dealing with online customer feedback. 85% of consumers report using online reviews for local businesses to make purchasing decisions. The power of Yelp, Travelocity, and other sites that feature user-generated reviews is undeniable, particularly for businesses in the service industry. An active presence on these networks simply isn’t negotiable. Don’t just join these networks, but respond to feedback publicly. This approach helps build your credibility and increase your brand’s clout.
Once you have established where to direct your energy, develop a consistent management strategy to reap the rewards of your social media marketing efforts. Continually updating your profiles, sharing valuable content, and engaging your followers in meaningful conversations all help propel your business forward. Choose to make contributions to social media a regular part of your day-to-day business operations, and you’re bound to see impressive results.
Social proof plays an essential role in the healthy growth of modern businesses, with feedback on sites like Yelp, Google+, and the BBB providing would-be customers with invaluable information. In an ideal world, your business would never receive a scathing review, but it’s an inevitable challenge you will face as you work to expand your business. Resist the urge to cower and hide when confronted with negative reviews, and instead use these opportunities to put the spotlight on the incredible service you offer. The following reputation management tips will keep your company protected.
Responding to Unhappy Clients
Negative reviews may feel like the end of the world, but don’t let naysayers get the best of you online. Some business owners lash out with unpleasantries while others remain silent in the face of a negative review—unfortunately, neither of these approaches will help your business succeed. Most review sites give businesses a platform for responding to derogatory remarks. Use this interaction to show other customers how you value your clients.
Treat an unhappy digital reviewer the same way you’d respond to an unhappy customer in the real world. For example, if someone complained about the poor quality of your restaurant’s food, you would apologize, offer to remake the dish, or offer a complimentary item from your menu. You should have the same goal in online reputation management. The only difference is you are responding in front of a crowd of spectators.
Incorporating Positive Reviews
An impressive 97% of all American consumers reportedly use search engines to learn more about local businesses. Capturing the attention of the average consumer requires deploying a thoughtful marketing strategy that incorporates positive social proof. Social proof lends credibility to your marketing claims and often makes a dramatic impact on overall foot traffic.
Many review platforms offer widgets you can build directly into your website to showcase positive reviews. Others provide embeddable links you can use to send visitors to your profiles. Use these tools to capitalize on the power of positive social proof.
Building an Active Online Presence
Creating a smart game plan for using both positive and negative reviews to your advantage serves a valuable purpose, but it’s even more effective to develop a proactive presence online. Many review sites, including Yelp and Angie’s List, offer signage you can display to invite customers to leave feedback. Encourage happy clients to post their remarks publicly, while handling any complaints you receive immediately. This two-fold approach helps generate customer loyalty while simultaneously sheltering your business from unwanted negative reviews.
Embracing the world of digital reviews proves challenging for many business owners, but the simple efficacy of these sites makes them a powerful marketing tool for companies of all shapes and sizes. Pay close attention to any review sites where customers leave feedback, and take the time to weigh carefully how best to respond and use these reviews. With a bit of thoughtful analysis and a smart customer service response, you’ll maximize your bottom line and attract new clients in one fell swoop.