Balliet - who runs US tasting show Wine Riot, which targets young wine drinkers - told the wine industry this week that the consumer group is increasingly made up of adults of legal drinking age and is therefore crucial to the future of global wine sales - yet Millennials are not being marketed to correctly.
“The wine industry has grown in spite of its marketing,” he said, arguing it is often old fashioned and compared its language - such as sugar and acid levels - to that of the ‘technical specs’ of PC marketing in the 1990s.
Balliet said wine marketing must better connect with young people and not be overly complicated, saying a sea-change similar to that of the computer industry is required.
He gave the example of how Steve Jobs demystified the computer industry by offering machines that were were billed as “great for playing videos and music”.
To market effectively to the Millennial consumer group, Balliet said wine marketers should first understand what the demographic means. He said that defining Millennials as purely children of the Baby Boomers and born between 1980-2000 was too simplistic and went further to split Millennials into three groups.
“The first group of Millennials is a group of people that do not know what the world is like without the Internet. The second group does not know what the world is like without mobile phones and the third group does not know a world without smart phones.”
He argued that marketing should reflect society's relationship with these technological advances and said the way Millennials treat information is different to previous generations. “We don’t look [for information] we filter information,” he said.
The Wine Riot organiser believes Millennials are more likely to listen to friends’ endorsements than that of shop staff. “People do not want to feel like they have been sold to. We have been lied to by marketing our whole lives,” he said.
He said producers should be aware Millennials will not grow into Baby Boomers, and that they are not in a phase.
In a final message to the wine industry Balliet called on producers to “come together to sell wine” as it “works better than just talking about your brand”.