Interview with Leah Hennessy — Millennial, Owner of Millennier Wine Sales, author of the blog The Millennier: Wine + Millennials and all around AWESOME person! During our meeting we discussed what she likes and dislikes in a winery website, ways to attract Millennials to buy your wine and join your wine club and some basic marketing advice we should all implementing. What I love most about Leah is her advice is down-to-earth, easy to follow and, most importantly, actionable!!!!!
- What do you consider to be the Millennial age range?
- You can go to a dozen different places and get a dozen different age ranges for Millennials. For me, personally, I consider anyone born after 1978 to be a Millennial. But more important then age, what truly makes a Millennial are the shared experiences of a generation that have shaped us all in a similar way.
- Why are Millennials buying wine?
- Many of us have graduated from college and identify drinking wine as a symbol of our new mature, independent status and lifestyle. We’re basically like everyone else – we are looking for wines to celebrate special occasions, to share with friends and to drink with dinner.
- Why do you go to a winery website?
- I think that most Millennials don’t associate wineries with websites. So if I’m drinking a wine and see a url, or see that a winery is following me on Twitter I may go check it out. But I have to be looking for it specifically — I generally don’t just randomly search for wineries or wines on the Internet.
- What do you look for in a winery website design?
- Good design and information that is easy to access. And DON’T use the same design you’ve had for the last 20 years!!! Look at your web design kind of like a hair cut — you might be really comfortable with the same hair cut you’ve been getting for the last 20 years, but by now you are looking PRETTY dated with that ‘do. Update it! And just like a haircut, take a look at current magazines and pick out what you really like that is going on RIGHT NOW and incorporate those elements into your design. It will work wonders.
- PS: We don’t mind scrolling down to read the whole page so don’t kill yourself trying to fit everything in one screen with no scrollbar.
- Do you prefer Flash websites? (I’m asking this because many wineries feel to attract Millennials their site needs to be developed in Flash.)
- You have to understand, I (and Millennials in general) are on the Internet ALL THE TIME. We just want to be able to access the information we’re looking for quickly and easily. So if the Flash is well done and I can still get to the information, then its fine. But if its over-stylized or unprofessional then I won’t be going back. So really, whether a site has Flash or not makes no difference to me — its all in how well put together it is and how much it excites me about the wine.
- How do you feel about websites that open to music or someone talking to you?
- Everyone I know HATES that — especially if I’m at work! Maybe because it reminds us too much of our old MySpace pages [that opened to music]. Whatever the reason, 9 out of 10 times it’s pretty annoying.
- What irritates you the most about winery website’s?
- Sites that still have old, dated designs, pixelated images, spontaneous music – also when a site does not have enough information, and/or when the site is difficult to navigate. These things drive me CRAZY, but I’m always amazed at how many are out there. These businesses are shooting themselves in the foot by having these old or unprofessional websites representing who they are to a consumer group that they want to impress. When I sat down with Morgan First [Marketing and Community Director for 'The Second Glass' wine magazine and website, and Millennial Extraordinaire], the state of many winery websites is one of the first things we ended up discussing. Morgan relies on these sites for information on an upcoming articles and/or tastings. She wants to get her information quickly and easily and does not want to be bogged down with poor navigation, out-dated text, and slow loading graphics.
- Millennials don’t need all the bells and whistles, but we do need a site that is professional looking, well designed, updated regularly, loads quickly and the information is easy to access.
- What information do you look for in a winery website?
- Where you are!!!! If you’re based in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, I want to know it. After that, I want your branding to make me excited about your wine! For anyone who doesn’t understand what branding is, it is your identity and your point of view that you show the world – this is what makes you stand out.
- For example, Red Cap Vineyard’s POV centers around the young family that owns and works the vines in their Howell Mountain vineyard. They back this ‘branding’ up with pictures showing the family actually working in the vineyards and in their text with such headings as "Is Daddy Out Kissing the Grapes Again?"
- After the home page, I go right to the wines section and look at the prices. If you are charging a lot of money for your wines, then you better have an impressive website.
- What makes you want to return to a winery website?
- I would go back for more information, to buy wine (especially if there was a sale or the shipping was free) and maybe to check out their blog and see new pictures — but I would only do this if I knew the blog and gallery were updated regularly.
- What type of internet connection do you have?
- Very fast. This is true for most Millennials and if they don’t have a fast Internet connection at home, then they would definitely have one at work.
- Do Search Engines figure into your search for good wines?
- Not often. I never blindly search for wines on the Internet. I have to have heard of a specific region, wine or winery before I will go searching for them on the Internet.
- Do many Millennials access winery websites using mobile devices?
- I do look at websites using my mobile device, but if your site doesn’t look good on my mobile browser its not a deal breaker. However, if you do decide to create a mobile version of your website, be sure to FLAUNT IT. Maybe even incorporate your technical experience into your POV.
- I read about how Millennials live and breath on Facebook and don’t really even check their email — is this true?? If so, would an eNewsletter campaign even work with them?
- If you are going for Millennials, then you should know that eNewsletters = junk mail. If you truly want a Millennial following, create a FaceBook ‘fan page’ for your winery, then utilize it as another mailing list. If you’re not sure how to do this, you can read my article on FaceBook for Wineries and if you still need some help then reach out to any Millennials you may know and have them show you the ropes. They can be your FaceBook expert and teach you its ins and outs as well as proper FaceBook etiquette.
- Wineries are being told left and right to use Twitter. But how effective is using Twitter to attracting Millennial attention? Would their time be better spent focusing on their FaceBook page instead of twittering?
- Twitter is a very important tool in your social media kit, and its not just limited to Millennials. There are no where near as many Millennials on Twitter as there are on Facebook, and many Millennials "don’t get" Twitter – however, you can reach more than just Gen Y-ers on Twitter. Businesses are reaching out to Millennials right now to increase sales – remember that, and don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees. There may not be a huge concentration of Millennials on Twitter (yet), but there are millions of other potential consumers there to connect with.
- What other social networking sites do Millennials go to regularly in regards to wine?
- Yelp is a review website and is incredibly valuable to anyone who goes out to a restaurant, a store and/or BUYS WINE. If you sell wine then I would see if you are listed on Yelp and if you have any reviews.
- You suggest in your Millennial Wine Club Outreach article that wineries should offer a lighter version of their wine club to Millennials — wouldn’t doing something like this alienate their existing Wine Club members?
- No. As long as your rules are clearly posted, then why should your existing members get upset? After all, I don’t get ticked off when my bank offers discounts to students! I understand where they’re at and why they need the discounts. The same goes for us Millennials. Most of us are paying off student loans or saving up to buy a house and may be more likely to join your wine club if you have a ‘lighter’ version that we can more easily afford. And we are very picky about what wine club we want to join. The club needs to offer good discounts, good shipping, good events and, most importantly, treat us with respect.
I can’t thank Leah enough for her insightful and informative answers to my questions! I feel she has given some specific, easy to follow ideas to help you reach out to Millennials and hopefully, make them loyal wine buyers!
As usual, your comments and suggestions are encouraged!!!