What Millennials Want From Alcohol Brands

If you want a sense of the enormous influence of Millennials, just take a look at the stats.

Millennials, the largest generation in America, are expected to spend $200 billion in 2017. They account for 11.6 million households with kids, and they are the most ethnically and racially diverse American generation. Add some context to those numbers — more wine, beer and spirits options exist now than ever before — and you come up with a positive yet daunting outlook.

Millennials are eager to spend their money on brands they believe in, but they’re also our most spontaneous and engaged generation.


So, if you want the brands on your shelves to make it into Millennials’ carts, you’ll need to understand their buying habits. We all know this. However, finding ways to leverage this information is a different story. Millennials have massive buying power, and yet they often confound retailers.

Here are five important ideas that every brand should consider when marketing to Millennials.


1) Be Upfront With Packaging, in BIG, Bold Letters

Based on Watershed’s proprietary research, we discovered that 84 percent of Millennials believe they can digest your whole story at first glance. So get it right! Now, more than ever before, consumer decision-making is compressed, and your packaging needs to be optimized for the glance-and-buy generation.

2) Make a Promise

Millennials don’t continue to sleuth after first glance. These quick decision-makers are spontaneous, but they’re also looking to build a relationship with your brand. Brands that stand out are the ones that commit and communicate their promises, no matter what.

3) Millennials Don’t Want to be ‘Sold to’

Social media isn’t the only way to get your message across. Editorialized content is a good way to gain attention. Millennials are eager to try a new product when it’s covered by a media outlet they trust. In our study, we discovered that 84 percent of Millennials distrust traditional advertising, and even go so far as to choose a product because it’s not advertised. For example, a Millennial is more likely to buy a product if its recommended by a blogger, podcast or magazine that they trust.

4) Stay True to Your Brand

Be yourself. It’s cliché, but true. Once you find your brand’s true north, you’ll be able to operate with a set of values. Conviction is key to gaining Millennial engagement.

5) Established, Big Brands Can be Authentic, Too

The top five most-mentioned, authentic food and beverage brands in our study were Trader Joe’s, Coca-Cola, KIND Bars, Honest Tea and Starbucks. One research subject found Coca-Cola to be authentic because of transparent packaging and consistency of product, saying, “they’ve never tried to change who they are. They’ve had special editions, but generally they’ve remained the same.”

While you can’t simply check off boxes to build an authentic retail brand, there is a way to approach this consumer group with confidence. Whether or not you like it, Millennials, often called the “Tinder generation,” are split-second decision-makers who want your full brand to come across on the first impression. Brands that deliver on their promises, as long as those promises are clearly communicated, should expect more engagement on the shelf. bd

Lisa Donoughe is the Founder of Watershed Communications, a brand strategy firm specializing in the new food and drink economy. She has more than 30 years of experience telling distinct stories and building brand equity. For more information about Watershed and their proprietary research, visit watershedcom.com/research.


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