No, the Z does NOT stand for Zombies. Post-millennials to the rescue!

Greetings, friends, and welcome to another Must Read.

I’m knee-deep in preparation for a work trip to Sonoma, and while there I’m going to be speaking about “how to sell wine to millennials.” I have a confession: I was coerced by clients into this speech topic. I didn’t actually want to talk about how we sell to millennials, and conference attendees will hear all about it why. But you, lovely readers (who so patiently listen to me each week), are gonna get the ranty portion:

If we are just now working on how to sell <anything!> to millennials, we’re screwed!

And here’s why:

The oldest of Gen Z turned 21 this year. It is estimated that by 2020 (that’s only fourteen months away), they will comprise one-third of the population of the U.S. They have never known life without a cell phone or social media … or school shootings. And they are a force to be reckoned with.

But we’re not talking about Gen Z, and that’s a problem.

This week, I’m asking you to start thinking about Gen Z and how they’re going to impact wine marketing. Let me give you some facts to ponder.

1. They like a savings. This cohort is debt-averse. They shop (online) for a good deal, and know how to find any promo code out there (have you seen Honey?) Of all the Gen Z traits, this is the one we must acknowledge first so that we can understand their other values and avoid “racing to the bottom.”

2. They have a better sense of “the internet is forever” than prior generations, and value ephemeral communication. Snapchat, where you can view a video message once and then it disappears forever, probably best epitomizes this trend, with Instagram Stories hard on its heels. (Except keep in mind: this is the generation that doesn’t like Facebook; we all know that Insta is owned by Facebook; Facebook has a history of not abiding by its buy-out agreements and its original agmt with Insta included a clause that curtailed monetization practices; AND both founders of Insta resigned last week. If I were you, I’d start paying attention to alternatives.)

3. Gen Z has a healthy appreciation for good advertising. They’re willing to sit through an ad if it’s well done, but it had better be video, and you’ve only got about 8 seconds of their attention. Snapchat, Instagram, and don’t forget YouTube!

4. On that note, it’s been posited that Gen Z is more loyal to YouTube than any other brand. How can your wine brand leverage YouTube to build awareness? Hint: think collaboration, experiences, and social responsibility.

5. They are proud of their uniqueness and they like things that look good. They buy products that depict or align with their personalities and prefer things that their friends don’t have. And even though they like a bargain, if a product jibes with how they see themselves, they’re willing to spend.

6. They care where their food comes from. This is another one that we absolutely must pay attention to because it’s coming whether we like it or not. We need to achieve full transparency re: ingredients, production, practices, and so on. This kind of thing won’t fly with them.

7. They care about people. One of their monikers is The Plurals, which is short for The Pluralists. Just look at the world in which they’ve grown up. Human rights are their most important social issues, but issues of equality and climate change don’t lag far behind. Every business needs to be looking at social responsibility as a keystone of their brand message.

And last but not least:

8. They’re fast-paced and early adopters. They conduct their entire lives from a gadget in their pocket. If we thought the millennials were hard to keep up with, we’ve seen nothing yet.

Friends, we can’t do what we did with the Millennials and allow ourselves to be blindsided by this powerful market force. If for no other reason, do it for me. If we do a really good job marketing to this generation as they mature, then I won’t have to give “How to Sell to Gen Z” conference talks in 2028.

Have a happy Sunday.