For years now we’ve heard about the need for wineries to get on board marketing to Millennials. (We admit that we may have had something to do with that.) While that’s not a bad idea, there’s a lot of data suggesting that now is the time to focus on the generation between Millennials and Baby Boomers: Generation X.
This generation has been largely ignored by marketers across many industries, mostly because it is relatively smaller, has less buying power than the Boomers, and (in the case of wine) showed an early preference for cocktails and craft beer.
But we’ve come to think that ignoring them would be a huge mistake for wineries. In fact, Generation X might be the key to building a robust DTC channel, if you get the experience right.
Generation X Has Changed…And Loves Wine
The average Gen Xer is now in their late 40s or early 50s. As a group, they earn roughly 31% of total US income, with annual incomes now surpassing that of Baby Boomers and the national average. Even though it’s a smaller group than the other generations, they had a relatively easier time building wealth and establishing themselves, and they are now at an age where they are spending that wealth on the finer things.
When it comes to wine specifically, Silicon Valley Bank’s State of the Wine Industry 2018 report predicted that Generation X’s wine purchases will surpass those of Baby Boomers by 2021—both in terms of volume and in terms of dollars. It turns out that Generation X’s tastes have indeed shifted toward wine… and they do love the premium stuff.
So let’s assume that a winery wants to pursue this market more strategically. What would be the key to unlocking it?
Reaching Generation X through DTC
When it comes to marketing to Generation X, most wineries already have the tools they need—or can get them easily. Straddling the older and younger generations, Gen Xers respond to a mix of old school service-and-a-smile and today’s digital tools.
Let’s take the digital angle first. Generation X is online and on social media just as much, or more, than any Millennial:
- Gen Xers spend almost 32 hours a week toggling between all media, compared to about 27 hours for Millennials and about 20 hours for the 50-and-older set. This includes seven hours each week (on average) on social media.
- 56% of people in Generation X prefer to shop online. When they do, they tend to rely on review sites (like Yelp) for reviews and information.
- 7 in 10 Gen Xers will likely purchase something from a brand they follow on social media. Slightly more than half will follow a brand on social media before making a purchase.
In other words, Generation X is no stranger to digital platforms. They like to discover and follow brands online, shop online, and leave reviews online for others.
But this penchant for online shopping is not just mercenary. People in Generation X do tend to be extremely loyal to brands, and they appreciate honesty and transparency in their business interactions. They also appreciate having a good purchase experience.
This suggests a few things:
- A functional eCommerce store could be a gold mine, if it makes the purchase experience easy and pleasant. (See our interview with Andrew Kamphuis for some tools to do just that.)
- Wine clubs and loyalty programs are a good idea with this cohort. Their brand loyalty means longer times in the club, and less attrition.
- Although they spend a lot of time on digital, Gen Xers do respond to direct mail too—all the more reason to use wine deliveries as another marketing channel. For example, you can include with every package a wine catalog, a discount coupon, or some other promotion for your winery.
- Experience is a big deal, so you should pay some attention to the unpacking experience around your wine shipments.
- In order to do any or all of the above, you’ll have to spend some serious time thinking about your DTC channel. You will also want to choose your DTC wine shipping partner carefully, making sure they can help create the delivery experience that will matter greatly to this generation.
If you liked this information, you should check out our latest eBook, “Where is Wine Shipping and Fulfillment Going? The Trends You Need to Catch to Grow Your DTC Wine Sales Channel.”