Festivals and wine brands: how to chase and capture Millennials’ imaginations

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Millennials can be a tough crowd, but perhaps festivals offer an opportunity for wine brands to make their mark on the minds of this most elusive of demographics.
Not long ago a client and I were brainstorming about Millennials and how to brand build with them. This is a tricky one. As my client pointed out, Millennials are as hard to catch as the rarest Pokémon, and when an opportunity presents itself everyone goes for it at the same time. A dangerous strategy, as according to him there is nothing Millennials dislike more than the overwhelming feeling of being approached by several brands at once.
As a qualified Millennial at 29 years old, I for the most part agree with him – especially when the communication channel is aggressive. But at the same time, I sometimes quite like being approached by brands in a subtle and smart way. And I think that, like me, most Millennials will actually get more attached to the brands they like than generations above ever did. iPhone is a case in point – most of my friends are obsessed with it. Or, to take a personal example, I recently fell in love with American Apparel when I was passing by their Camden store here in London. My friend told me that all their clothes are manufactured in California and that the models in the pictures are everyday people. They pose without any make up or much preparation. A far cry from super models, they champion a “natural beauty”. The brand message and good quality means I don’t mind paying a little more to buy something from American Apparel.
Our brainstorm went on. The main point was to understand what a wine brand can do better when targeting Millennials and we inevitably ended up discussing festivals. “It’s where they are and it’s where they are themselves”. I couldn’t agree more. “We need to have wine selling there!” This is where I started to doubt.
There are many festivals, especially summer festivals. In Portugal alone – my home country and such a small one at that – there are dozens and at least 10 big ones each year. They range so broadly in style, each attended by different types of people and different types of Millennials. At every festival I’ve been to I have seen brands doing great work at getting their name out there, typically telecommunications, media, banking, beer, soft drinks and even spirits. But wine always seems to be missing.
Why? I have been asking this question for many years now and my conclusion is that it is just not the occasion: Wine needs a proper glass and a more relaxed environment.
But… does it?
A couple of weeks ago I went to Copenhagen for a weekend away and attended the Roskilde Festival – the biggest festival in Northern Europe and a source of national pride in Denmark, where more than 30,000 volunteers make it happen every year. And for the first time in my life I saw wine being sold with success in a festival environment. The pictures speak for themselves:

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Author: Luis Osório
Email: luis@wineintelligence.com
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