E. & J. Gallo Winery Targets Millennial Generation
For Sales Growth

By John Karolefski

Forward-thinking marketers of consumer packaged goods have targeted the Millennial generation as the key demographic for sales growth. These 21 to 36 year olds – also called Generation Y – are interested in food and cooking. Not surprisingly, this group shapes up as an ideal consumer of wine to accompany and enhance meals at home.

With those shopper insights in mind, E. & J. Gallo Winery has begun to focus on Millennials via sophisticated marketing programs that include grocery partners.   

“All of our research shows that there is a very high level of interest between this group and wine consumption. Our research also shows that there is also a strong food component when it comes to Millennials. This was a natural tie in for our grocery customers,” said Herb Smith, Vice President of Off-Premise Customer Development and Category Management for the world’s largest winery.
The family-owned company, headquartered in Modesto, Calif., boasts a portfolio of 60 brands. With products available in 90 countries, it is the largest exporter of California wine.

Gallo added a retailer component to its entry into Millennial marketing because of previous success with many programs based on research and collaboration with its customers. The philosophy has always been to start with the consumer whether in developing a brand or in developing a marketing concept.

The first innovative campaign, called “Pair It, Share It,” aimed to relate to Millennials by speaking their language – in store, online and on mobile devices. Using social media and a unique web site called The Daily Meal, the campaign taught Millennials about wine and food pairing and how to take and share photos of their food. It also allowed them to engage and get recommendations from others using the #PairItShareIt Twitter feed.

Also, Galllo engaged Millennials in-store through displays, point of sale, recipes and pairing guides starring two of its Italian Pinot Grigio wines: Ecco Domani and Maso Canalli.

Not only did "Pair It, Share It" generate over 100 million incremental impressions for the featured brands, it also drove impressive sales results for the retail partner in the two divisions where the promotion took place. There was a 45% increase in one division and a 64% increase in the other in terms of sales versus a year ago. “That’s pretty significant,” said Smith, declining the name the retailer because of a confidentiality agreement.

As far as the retail-based campaign, Gallo spotlighted specific areas in the wine department to help make the decision process easier for the consumer. These areas were designated “What’s New,” “Top Picks,” and “Best Sellers.” to name a few. Also, the wine maker staged in-store demonstrations where it was legal to offer wine samples to shoppers as well as hand out coupons and food recipes.

“Wine demonstrations have proven to be very successful in terms of helping the consumer understand the different taste profiles associated with wine – especially for those consumers that are not frequent wine consumers,” said Smith.

The promotion impressed The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and its Associate Member Council (AMC). They awarded E. & J. Gallo Winery a 2013 CPG Award for Innovation and Creativity. The award is given annually to companies that have significantly added to the industry’s knowledge base. The official awards presentation was made by Greg Smith, Global Lead Partner, KPMG LLP and chair of the GMA Associate Member Council during the GMA Chairman’s Lecture at The Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz. recently.

“The way the Gallo team connected the in-store, social media and digital platforms to deliver consumer education really caught the attention of the committee,” said Jonathan Downey, Director, Business and Industry Development, GMA.

Gallo’s Smith said, “This recognition would not have been possible without the support of our retail partners and their willingness to test new concepts to further drive conversion and penetration of the wine category. We continue to see a dramatic increase in wine purchases among Millennials, which this program sought to leverage. They continue to experiment and use social media to share their thoughts.”

Gallo will continue to execute programs around Millennials. Many will be similar to the first one, but there will be others. Smith plans to do a lot of work around social media, both in terms of apps, but also in terms of web sites. Such promotions will be part of an expanding digital marketing program as Gallo continues to test new concepts.

“Many of our brands are on Facebook and Twitter,” he said, “and we continue to do a lot of work around specific smartphone applications. We will continue to launch these programs in the next six months.”

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                                                                               February 2013
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