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Murray Almond's "From the Left Island"

Marketing Wine to Generation X
© Murray Almond
25 May 2002

What makes Generation X pick up a glass of wine rather than a Bourbon & Coke or a Bacardi Breezer? A report of new Australian research highlights some surprising insights into the attitudes toward wine by Generation X. The report, "Marketing Wine to Generation X", is by Roz Howard and Jenny Stonier, who were awarded the NSW Wine Press Club Fellowship to undertake the study.

"Generation X" is loosely defined those born between 1961 and 1980, and currently represents 30% of the Australian population. This represents a sizeable segment of the market, often associated with sizeable disposable income. To segment this a bit more this group is
The Workforce Entry Group, 21-25 years,
the Main Marrying Group, 26-33 Years,
and the Main Child bearing Group of 34-40 year olds.

The study notes that among Generation X, many will travel overseas frequently, live alone and not be bound by prohibitive views on wine. In terms of drinking habits wine comes third at 21% behind Beer and Spirits. This is low compared to the Australian wine drinking population at 31%. Given that the Wine Industry is currently growing at 2% the report notes an enormous scope in moving this Generation X to wine.

In looking as to how this could be done, Roz & Jenny surveyed a cross section of the Generation X population; 'Highly Involved' students of wine production, 'Involved' from attendees at Wine Australia, and 'Not Involved' marketing students. The survey looked at what influences the consumer in buying wine.

The results showed that the top 3 influences are
1. Friends and Family
2. Wine Reviews
3. Visits to Wineries

Only then comes other factors such as price, show awards, retail staff. At the bottom of the list where the more traditional marketing methods of Discounts, Packaging and Advertising. Although with Advertising the report notes "it is assumed that the effects were unaware of the effects of advertising.

This was surprising to me, and I expect surprising to many in the wine industry. While the importance of Family and friends is an easy pick, as to a certain extent with wine reviews, the highlighting on the importance of visits to wineries in expanding the marketing, as opposed to just preaching to the converted, should not be underestimated

Australian Wine Industry giant Southcorp in Australia have recently rationalised cellar door operations and closed the Lindemans Cellar Door in Coonawarra, thereby cutting off a significant marketing opportunity. I, and many others, buy Lindemans wines, particularly the Coonawarra premium wines such as St. George, solely on the basis of a positive initial experience at the Coonawarra Cellar Door. A little effort by a winery to provide a great Cellar Door Experience can be amply repaid in buyer loyalty.

The importance of wine review is also interesting. Generation X is an early embracer of technology and the Internet provides a significant information channel to this group. This comes through in e-newsletters as well as discussion on Internet Discussion boards. However the wine companies must realise than the Internet audience is a savvy one. Misguided marketing by "seeding" leading questions on Internet Discussion boards are quickly identified by the community and the marketing attempt backfires.

The report suggests providing samples to Generation X wine writers. These writers will say what they think about the wine, good and bad, and this provides for a more knowledgeable wine buyer who will seek out a wine on the basis of recommendation more than price.

In it's recommendation the report points to some of thy image problems of wine noting that while marketers look at 4 P's; Product, Price, Place and Promotion, the generalised image of the industry to some includes the four B's: "Big Eyebrows, Bulbous Nose, Bow Ties and Bulging Belly"; a lovely turn of phrase in my view. Highlighting responsible consumption, food friendly and the wine can be part of a health lifestyle are all important considerations moving forward.

Generation X is a very big part of the market, and the wine industry should move to embrace this market early, rather than waiting for the market to age and then become wine savvy. This report provides a keen insight into the opportunities for growth for Generation X.

From the Left Island


"Marketing Wine to Generation X", by Roz Howard and Jenny Stonier, for the 2000-2001 NSW Wine Press Club Fellowship. Enquiries can be forwarded to Roz Howard at

© Murray Almond
25 May 2002

Any feedback? Send it to Murray at

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