Register
+
SIGN UP FOR THE BUYER’s WEEKLY NEWSLETTERInsight, analysis and opinion and more direct to your inbox






  • Joe Fattorini: why obsessing about millennials is a waste of time

    Earlier this week The Buyer reported on new research released by CGA Peach on the importance for the on-trade to find ways to successfully target and engage with millennials. It drew this impassioned response from leading trade figure, Joe Fattorini, one of the hosts of ITV’s The Wine Show, who believes by focusing on millennials we are dangerously ignoring far more important and enthusiastic consumers from older age groups.

    Earlier this week The Buyer reported on new research released by CGA Peach on the importance for the on-trade to find ways to successfully target and engage with millennials. It drew this impassioned response from leading trade figure, Joe Fattorini, one of the hosts of ITV’s The Wine Show, who believes by focusing on millennials we are dangerously ignoring far more important and enthusiastic consumers from older age groups.

    By January 13, 2017
    Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone
    Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

    Joe Fattorini is not  a fan of any marketing that singles out millennials over other age groups, particularly when it comes to talking about promoting wine. Here’s why…

    Stereotyping millennials: are they are all taking pictures of their food and sharing them on Snapchat?
    Stereotyping millennials: are they are all taking pictures of their food and sharing them on Snapchat?

     

    Here’s a way to save time and frustration in 2017. Ignore anything that mentions millennials. Or purports to speak for millennials. Or gives you ‘insight’ into millennials. Why? Because whatever you’re about to read is meaningless. Millennials aren’t different. They’re not special either. They just have firmer thighs.

    You’ll have read a lot about millennials. If you work in marketing you’ll have read about 42 times as much about millennials as any other age-group cohort. People like Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and the rest. How do we know this? Because someone has counted how many times millennials are mentioned in marketing publications versus other age groups. Ask yourself this. Is 10% of the population, with less than 10% of the disposable income, 42 times more important than every other consumer group combined? If you’re not sure, the answer is ‘no’.

    Then ask yourself if millennials constitute a consumer group at all. First-term, first-year marketing students learn from the great Bill Stanton: “Market segmentation is the process of dividing the total heterogeneous market for a good or service into several segments. Each of which tends to be homogeneous in all significant aspects to each other, and heterogeneous to those in other segments.”

    When it comes to wine, is a 31 year old married father of two pipe fitter-welder from Sunderland “homogeneous in all significant aspects” to a 20 year old single woman PR account executive from Fulham? And indeed, is our PR account executive’s approach to wine heterogeneous “in all significant aspects” to all other Fulham-based PR professionals who just happen to be older than her? If you’re not sure, the answer once again is ‘no’.

    Are millennials really that different?

    When it comes to wine, we’re told millennials have a unique thirst for new regions and producer heritage. They’re idealists with an exceptional sense for the authentic. And they’re multi-taskers. Which is helpful. Because depending which wine trade research you read, they’re both price-conscious and high-spending. But do you honestly believe that people aged between 18 and 33 value the authentic whilst everyone older values the ersatz?

    It’s only meaningful telling us millennials have a thirst for new regions and heritage, if old buggers like me have no interest in trying interesting wines made by people with interesting stories. Me and the other 90% of the population (and more than 90% of the disposable income and more than two thirds of all wine sales) who happen not to be millennials.

    Why do we talk about millennials as one collective group when they are all very different in their needs and backgrounds, says Fattorini
    Why do we talk about millennials as one collective group when they are all very different in their needs and backgrounds, says Fattorini

    People aged 18 to 33 are not all the same. The Duchess of Cambridge and Jemma Lucy are not “homogeneous in all significant aspects to each other”. Turns out they’re not uniquely different to the rest of us either. Look at research from CEB, a consulting firm. Or the Centre for Creative Leadership. The Economist says both underline how “human commonalities swamp both individual differences and generational variations”.

    Marketing commentator and professor, Mark Ritson puts it slightly differently. He picked apart the results of a Futurecast report, “The Millennial Mindset”. This study asked 2,500 consumers aged 18 to 65, 200 questions on various belief statements. These were clustered around Innovation, Purpose, Social, Self and Awareness. Ritson looked at the difference between millennials and the wider population. “For those of you who don’t have a PhD in statistical analysis,” says Ritson looking at the results, “it’s called ‘fuck all’ in a text book”. Please forgive his French.

    Why are we obsessed in millennials? 

    So why do we hear so much about millennials? Because they’re young. And young is sexy. Young is vivacious. Young means having firm thighs and freedom and not having to go home to a crabby partner and infant vomit and reminders of your abandoned dreams at the end of the day. But just because millennials are young doesn’t mean grouping them together is good marketing.

    If you work in wine marketing, stop looking for a vapid, sexy shortcut and go and talk to your customers.

    Find genuinely homogeneous groups of wine drinkers with true common interests and values. Things that make those groups measurably different from other groups of wine drinkers.

    Wine businesses will wither unless they appeal to a new generation of wine lovers. That much is true. But it takes hard work. There are a lot of people trying to sell you snake oil about millennials. Don’t buy it. Don’t bother reading it either.

    • Joe Fattorini is a presenter on The Wine Show and consultant to wine businesses in the UK and Middle East. He has his own management consultancy practice specialising in marketing communications and management development.
      • Phil
      • January 11, 2017
      Reply

      Could not agree more

      • Reply

        I agree that marketing to millemials for wine doesn’t neceserally have to be that much different to the one for other age groups. Millenials that drink wine are probably just like everyone else interested in learning about the genuine background story of what they’re drinking (although there has been enormous successes of wines specifically aimed at millenials on certain markets…).
        But the risk of ‘ignoring millenials’ entirely as you suggest is that you may ignore emerging media altogether as well and find yourself completely obsolete as a marketer or more simply a story teller in 5 or 10 years.
        At least observing, learning and practicing cultural changes over time is clearly essential if you want to communicate with contemporary wine buyers over the media they are using. If you start using Instagram no earlier than in 5 years, chances are your learning curve of social media will be steep, while everyone will have gone from the platform to a new one! You’ll eventually have to pay the price for that, and put in the work to catch up. Not sure that’s the right strategy!?!
        I really like how your piece opens the perspectives though and is an invitation to reflect and debate.
        Cheers 🙂

        • Reply

          Hi Joe, you make some great points, which I tend to agree with. I’m 46 which apparently makes me “Generation X”…nobody seems very interested in us!

          I suppose the one thing that does tend to unite young people is their comfort and ability with technology / apps / smartphones etc. Of course a lot of “older” people may be happy / comfortable with this too but it’s not native, it’s not something we’ve grown up with. More or less the point that Julien is making above.

          • Reply

            Hi Joe – great article. I have two Millennial children who, while are ‘chalk & cheese’, both fit to much of what you’ve written.

            Having said that, our target market, “the 25-45 with money in their pocket and a desire for all things artisanal”, include a segment of Millennials and, perhaps more interestingly, some Generation X with ‘Millennial tendencies’ i. e. (per your article) “a unique thirst for new regions and producer heritage”, which fits our niche of “quality, premium artisan drink products from small producers”.

            • Reply

              Hi Joe,
              Great article, I agree with you.

              • Reply

                The subtext of Joe’s article is spot on, but to completely ignore your customers’ age, which after all is the core common characteristic that millennials share, is bullish to say the least.

                Isolating and comparing extreme examples like welders and PRs isn’t representative – the point is that there are hundreds of thousands of people in any defined age bracket that do share similar traits, aspirations and ideals, and these will be different to those of another generation. There will be many similarities too, but even these come with a different sense of priority attached.

                Of course, there is no difference between a Generation Xer born in 1979 and a millennial born in 1980. But in order to effectively study generational shifts in attitudes, arbitrary fixed points in time separating them need to exist.

                The problem I have is when marketers apply macro segmentation techniques, like age bracketing, to identify micro singularities such as taste or an interest in heritage. It’s garbage, and Joe’s “snake oil” most definitely exists in this space.

                As Brian famously pointed out, ‘we are all individuals’. And when it comes to our tastes in wine, he may well have been right. But while many of us Xers fondly remember the scene, there’s a whole different generation wondering who the hell Brian is.

                • Reply

                  Hi Joe, Thanks for an entertaining read. You make some very pertinant points so focussing on the positive I absolutely agree it is essential to work hard and understand WHO is your target consumer. “Find genuinely homogeneous groups of wine drinkers with true common interests and values. Things that make those groups measurably different from other groups of wine drinkers.”
                  These may be from different generational groups including of course the next group coming along may be! Get out there and be relevant!

                  • Reply

                    How refreshing to read something by someone who is prepared not to swallow everything that is dished up. The truth is always more nuanced and complex than anything that attempts to lump things crudely into easy categories

                      • Regina M Lutz
                      • January 13, 2017
                      Reply

                      LOL! So right on target! Personally, I hate talking to the M-Crowd…it’s hard to get a word in edgewise when most everyone at the table are doing what young people that age are engage in: looking at themselves, looking at each other, texting friends who aren’t at the table to tell them where they are and what they’re doing…and if you ask what kind of wine they like, it will take a while to get an answer since everyone has to ask each other and friends who aren’t even with them….what they think and like. And then they’ll drink what someone else says they like instead of actually trying something they like. It’s goofy! So while I think someone who’s interested in selling more wine should pay attention to the M-crowd ….maybe not so much!

                        • Marianne McGarry Wolf
                        • January 13, 2017
                        Reply

                        Great article! I am one of those PhDs sitting in from of my computer at the moment analyzing statistical data that agrees with many of your points.

                          • Richard Bampfield
                          • January 17, 2017
                          Reply

                          Couldn’t agree more, Joe. After all, I suspect we dabbled around with a few beverages other than wine when we were younger…….

                            • Chuck Cramer
                            • January 20, 2017
                            Reply

                            Nice one Joe!

                            Leave a Reply

                            Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

                            Beer/Brewer
                            Buyer Retailer
                            Buyer Supplier
                            Buyer Operator/On-trade
                            Media
                            Pr
                            Sommelier
                            Supplier
                            Spirits producer
                            Wine Merchant
                            Wine Producer
                            Other