Here's why this brand spent six years working out how to get Gen Y to drink its wine

Photo: @you_wines/ Instagram.

Gen Y is the most studied demographic in history.

It’s a unique generation not just as individuals, but also as consumers. They are the first group of people to have grown up with, and captured the power of the internet and technologies such as smartphones and social media.

With this in mind, Love & Wine directors Brian and Evan Mitchell made a conscious effort to study what Gen Y looks for and needs from a brand when creating YOU Wines.

In a six-year study of Gen Y mindsets and behaviour patterns, the pair found these five inter-related dynamics:

  • A shift in educational focus (from achievement to self-esteem)
  • A parallel shift in vocational focus (from accomplishment to celebrity)
  • A move from “vertical modelling” in patterns of maturation (basing on parents) to “horizontal modelling” (peer group dominance)
  • Saturation in technology as both a means and an end, and
  • The emergence of social media as social life

Compared to Gen X and Boomers, Gen Y stays younger for much longer, lengthening the transitional phase between adolescence and adulthood.

This is bad news for the wine industry. The old expectation that people’s tastes will eventually just “grow into” wine no longer holds.

The Mitchells realised that by failing to engage with Gen Y, the wine industry had effectively pushed this consumer generation to other beverages.

Picture: TIME

The strategy was to avoid being “all things to all people” by being “the most important things to each person”, an approach mastered by Coca Cola.

When Australian Vintage took up the challenge of developing a wine that would appeal to this neglected market, its solution was to build the brand around Gen Y aspirational values that are primary – image and identity, and personal relationships.

Working off Gen Y’s defining characteristic of being the digital generation, the brand’s team drew on an iconic digital moment – Time magazine’s 2006 “Person of the Year” cover, the mirrored YOU.

This revolutionary selection by Time legitimised all the claims of the digital revolution – users as “content creators”, abandonment of experts and authority, personal control over content choice, identity creation through digital activity, self-interest as self-direction – and in doing so, vindicated everything Gen Y believes about itself.

“A brand must be more than a name – relationship with a brand requires an emotional tie,” Australian Vintage told Business Insider.

“For YOU wines, that connection comes from the fact that different wine varieties have different personalities. Each wine personality, authentic to its variety can be linked to people, not only in their personalities but in their changing moods.”

The YOU Wines quiz.

The brand achieves this connection of individual and wine variety through its online quiz. It allows the tech-dependent generation to literally seek a wine that reflects their personality – an outcome that is not static but can shift with mood changes.

“The launch of YOU Wines is a result of our deepening understanding of consumer behaviour and segmentation,” said Cameron Ferguson, general manager of Australian Vintage.

“We’ve challenged our business to be responsive, listen to the needs of our retail partners and bring genuine innovation to the wine category.

“It’s fair to say that the wine category has to date failed to take advantage of its natural fit with Gen Y consumers, lagging behind the beer, cider and RTD categories.

“We recognised this market gap, and set about creating a brand from the bottom up that is backed by solid consumer research and insights.”

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