Marketing Wine to Gen Y: The "Gen" Stands for Genuine

In the Santa Rosa Press Democrat today, an article about marketing wine to Gen Y, or the Millenials:

Wine marketers hoping to get their message across to mobile, fickle 20-somethings have their work cut out for them.
While research shows these young people are embracing wine earlier and at a greater rate then either Baby Boomers or Gen Xers, these so-called Gen Yers or Millennials — broadly speaking those born between the late 1970s and late 1990s — are proving impervious to traditional marketing and advertising methods.
“You need to be authentic with this generation,” 29-year-old journalist Nadira Hira told hundreds of wine executives gathered in Santa Rosa Tuesday. “This generation craves sincerity. We've been lied to … We don't believe you.”
Hira was a keynote speaker at the second annual Direct To Consumer Symposium held at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel. She is a reporter for Fortune magazine who focuses on Generation Y and how its embrace of technology and social networking is changing the nation's social and professional landscape.
Gen Yers are skeptical of traditional advertising and marketing, recoiling from heavy-handed efforts to tell them how they should think about products.
“Nobody wants you to beat them over the head with your brand,” Hira said.
They want to explore and experiment and share their discoveries. While this creates great opportunities for new brands, it also presents challenges for turning these fickle folks into long-term customers.

Most interesting (OK, amusing, now that I'm all grown up an everything) to me is the parental tone of this spokesperson for a generation that, in her own words, is experiencing an extended childhood:

...because of how they were raised. Their Baby Boomer parents were “overinvolved and overindulgent” with them, staying in close contact with their children through college and beyond, thereby “stretching out their adolescence.”

We'll see if her protestations ring true. Certainly the "father knows best" style of advertising that made perfect sense in the 50s now makes perfect fodder for satire, but apart from extremely high levels of irony in today's advertising and marketing, isn't it already the epitome of the soft sell, in most cases? Apart from cable TV gadget hawkers, I think it's safe to say advertisers haven't "beat anyone over the head with [their] brand" for a long, long time now.

By the way, I think we should move past Gen Y and get a jump on marketing to Gen Z, the term for which I will hereby coin with the moniker "GenZed."


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