Marketing,Wine,Wine Business

Generational Shifting ~ It Just Takes Time and Innovative Talent

There’s no getting around how one generation takes control of the reins, but it doesn’t happen as quickly as the younger generation wants it to happen.

I was just reminded of this with a wine brand proprietor; but, before you read what went down, here are a few life’s observations that give credence to the reason for writing this blog entry.

For instance, when the 60s were in high gear, women were asking for equal rights, African Americans (and a lot of us Anglos) were asking for equal rights for all people of color, and we were asking for a lot of environmental changes.

Where are all of those things today?

  1. Women have put their bras back on, and we’ve gotten ourselves into board rooms
    1. This didn’t exist for my mother’s generation
    2. A few of us are running others’ or our own companies
  2. African Americans are eating in the same restaurants with us, not having to ride at the back of the bus, have more positions of employment
  3. Instead of dealing with environmental issues, industries shipped jobs to third world countries, where the environment wasn’t on everyone else’s mind, as much as feeding the poor was.

And yet:

  1. Women are now seen mostly in middle management positions, and still don’t have equal pay for the same jobs that we do, for the most part
  2. Crosses are still burning
    1. October 20, 2010 in Charles County, Maryland
    2. Henderson County outside Fletcher, NC, Oct 15, 2010
  3. We have only one globe, and instead of making things better by shipping jobs overseas, we now have global warming…
    1. And must really deal with it sooner rather than later

Things are better, but they’re not the best, yet, on any of these fronts.

So… to today, and the millennial’s generational pull…

They will take additional action, and advance each cause a step further. My generation wanted to save the trees… Our kids are doing just that by embracing reading via the internet, versus newspapers and magazines. They will see a bookless world, and read everything on PADs (Personal Access Devices). By the way, my spell check doesn’t yet recognize “bookless.” I’ll add it to make that annoying red line go away, but you see where this isn’t yet a concept that’s made it into our lexicon.

And now to how the millennials are impacting how wine is being marketed:


  1. Wholesalers still want to know that a wine has had a high score of 90 or above from Robert Parker, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast.
  2. Wineries are still forced to either be bragging about those scores; or, be humbled by not having them, and told that this wine just isn’t going to sell as well.
  3. Costco has exacerbated the situation by only selling wines that are 90 or above scores… Prove it or remove it, style…

In 20 years, the paradigm shifting has begun, but the tipping point has not yet been reached.

Why? Because I just queried a winery owner, asking the following, and his reply will follow my question. It’s fascinating. I write that an objection is a request for more information, but some debates aren’t yet worth having. Timing is everything, and it’s just not the time, yet, to explain this one. Millennials, just keep going, because I’m pulling for you.

Hi, Bob, [made-up name]

Increasingly, we’re putting hard copy press release into an Email to a wine writer database that I’ve developed with over 500 writers in the US. It’s great brand building, and creates a buzz on the Internet about a brand’s wines.

It costs one cent per Email address… ($5.00 approximately) to reach this many US wine writers.

Jose just has to format it, and off it goes.

Do you want to have any more support for this brand’s new release? It’s going to cost you about $5.00. Small price for big exposure.

Any Interest?

Just let me know. Thanks.

His reply…

Five dollars isn’t much cash, but I think what goes with it is very expensive; such as samples, shipping, sell sheets, etc. What I’ve found is that writers and lesser know publications do little for me with my wholesalers and major customers, even if the publication is in their home market. I understand that it may build awareness of the brand with some consumers, but it just is not enough to warrant the total expense.

I can’t argue with him. He’s on the streets, and these are his realities… for this generation. Twenty years from now, I know things will have changed, as the publications that wield this much power will have different people at the helm, and it will be a brave new world… As we watch it from this fish bowl, I’m reminded that this, too, shall pass.

And yet, I just read this on Blake Grays’ blog, Actual Results from Marketing to Bloggers… And it’s a comment from Alder Yarrow. It’s in relation to Blake asking if the Chilean Wine tasting, that I and a slew of bloggers participated in, has had any effect on our thoughts about Chilean wines and their blends. THIS is the argument that one would use, when the timing’s right.

ALDER YARROW: These days, when someone wants to find out anything, they go to Google. That includes people standing in a wine store wondering whether to plunk down $$ on a $30 Chilean wine. This little stunt has likely increased the chance that in that situation, someone will find a review from one of these bloggers, and if it’s positive, they’re that much more likely to buy the wine. And THAT is what justifies such exercises.

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3 Responses to “Generational Shifting ~ It Just Takes Time and Innovative Talent”

  1. Far be it from me to dispute the statements of my friend, Alder Yarrow, but I’ve seen no evidence that Google is the #1 source of wine recommendations for consumers. And even if people do Google a wine, chances are it will lead to the recommendation of (gasp!) a major wine magazine. For example, I just randomly Googled “Robert Mondavi 2007 Fume Blanc.” The #2 hit cites Wine Enthusiast’s review (i.e., mine), in the blurb part — you don’t even have to click on the link to see Wine Enthusiast’s name right there. Honest, this was a random choice on my part. So I think Alder, and the online wine guys in general, have been too hasty in predicting the demise of print magazines, as Jo wrote.

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Right on, Steve.

    Here’s the real reality of today, because I work with wine brands every single day of the week, versus the new generational wine writers that have cropped up via Web 2.0, and are finding their way around the systems put into place. (And, this isn’t a judgment call, it’s simply old age -aka experience- talking…)

    Wine companies work with wholesalers five days of the week. What the wholesalers are *still* saying is, “What had Parker, WS, or WE given the wine?”

    It’s that simple. No score, no placement, unless you stand on your head and spit gold coins, right now. (Those gold coins are sales allowances or depletion allowances… and incentive bucks for every case sold, maybe a trip to Maui right now?)

    It’s going to take a generation for this new crop to establish their own credentials, even though this new generation would like for it to be today, that ain’t the way evolution works… period.

    I asked this wine brand owner, “Can I send it to people like Alder Yarrow?” and he wanted to know who Alder was. I know who Alder is, but then… it’s my business to know. This owner just doesn’t have a clue, but he selling boatloads of wine without social media. He doesn’t need it yet… In the future, perhaps, but it will take a generation.

  3. Alder Yarrow says:


    There’s a difference between predicting the demise of print magazines (which I’ve joked about, but don’t expect anytime soon) and the factual statement that MANY people use Google as their interface to all information these days. Which means that if the reviews exist out there on the internet, then they will show up on Google. And right now there are a lot more (and a lot more freely available and easily searchable) reviews by bloggers and by people on CellarTracker than there are wine reviews from publications like yours.

    There’s a reason that the single largest source of traffic to my website, AND YOURS is people who have typed things into Google, and not just your name.

    Also, here’s a little secret lesson on Google for you. It shows you the search results designed to stroke your ego the most. Because you’re in the enthusiast domain and visit that site a lot, it shows you results from that site.

    But look what it shows me when I type in the same query: http://www.dropshots.com/zoom.html?large=http://media10.dropshots.com/photos/790889/20101220/b_154117.jpg

    Of course all readers can try this out for themselves.

    No sign of your Wine Enthusiast review, and instead, results number 9 and 10 are bloggers. Of course, the same principle is in effect with me, but hopefully you get the point.


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