How wine can build an authentic connection with Hispanic and Black consumers

Hispanic and Black wine consumers

Wine Market Council (WMC) recently hosted a webinar digging into Hispanic and Black wine consumers experiences and strategies to recruit them into the larger wine consumer base.

Source: Wine & Spirits Daily.

Multicultural efforts are “imperative”. The presentation centered around research conducted in partnership with research firm Ethnifacts. Wine Market Council director of research Christian Miller kicked off the presentation with a few stats.

Although both Hispanic and Black / African American consumers underindex for spending on wine and percentage of household penetration for wine, there is growing potential within the groups. For one, core consumers within those populations skew younger than the population at large, said Christian. And Black and Hispanic core wine consumers only spend slightly less than the total population average amongst US core wine consumers.

Black and Hispanic wine consumers also have a “greater than average” interest in visiting wineries and a higher proportion of them report drinking more wine in the last two years than the US average, he noted.

Mike Lakusta, EthniFacts ceo and founding partner, also contextualized the growing opportunity, noting that in recent decades there’s been a significant increase in population and spending power amongst Hispanic and African American communities. This growing influence constitutes the “multicultural imperative,” he emphasized.

In other words: who is the new mainstream consumer? These multicultural efforts are not a “nice to have,” they are an imperative because of where the consumer is going in America right now.

Christian Miller. Wine Market Council Director of Research.

Drinking Occasions

The Wine Market Council study, conducted in partnership with research firm EthniFacts, talked to ten consumers who identified as Hispanic and ten who identified as African American and supplemented the interview data with quantitative findings from earlier in the year. Each of the 20 respondents was divided into either “core” (consuming wine at least once a week) or “casual” consumers.

First, respondents were asked what their favorite or top-of-mind wine-drinking occasions were. Both African American and Hispanic respondents’ top answers were at-home celebrations (birthdays, holidays or promotions), followed by easy-going at-home hangouts (cooking, relaxing) and outdoors (on patios, backyards or on rooftops). Hispanic respondents also listed dinner/drinks at a nice restaurant with company as another top answer, tying with outdoors.

A similar question was asked in the quantitative portion of the study, with the number one answer for both Hispanic and African American respondents being “just the girls” events like bridal showers or brunch, at 70% and 78% for the cohorts, respectively. Another top answer was relaxing alone at home, with 57% of Hispanic respondents and 68% of African American respondents choosing that option.

Hispanic and Black wine consumers

Barriers to entry

The study found ten primary barriers to entry to wine consumption for Hispanic and Black consumers and suggested strategies for lowering those barriers. To wit:

  1. Wine tends to have low-energy marketing. Hispanic and African American consumers are seeking more youthful, bright and energetic packaging and marketing.
  2. It’s also seen as too formal. Wine should be shown in more casual occasions, shared amongst family and friends at places like backyard hangouts or on the beach.
  3. Wine is socially unfamiliar. In order to connect authentically with Black and Hispanic consumers, brands should partner with locally-owned businesses and familiar influencers and other public figures.
  4. Culturally diverse foods often aren’t presented with wine. To make that connection, companies should work with a diverse representation of chefs and restaurants as well as educate wine store staff to highlight food and wine pairings.
  5. Wine is an acquired taste. In order to overcome that, brands should create more “fun and convenient” opportunities to try new wines at low or no cost, like sampling at local events and create avenues to build up from entry-level to more complex wines.
  6. The wine space is too white and lacks representation. There has to be an effort to include people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds in the media.
  7. Wine is seen as not very manly. Advertising and brand partnerships should include aspirational examples of men of color drinking wine.
  8. There’s a large learning curve with wine, which can be a barrier to entry. They suggest creating more inexpensive and simple ways to promote trial and experimentation like mixed packs of smaller containers or entry-level subscription boxes. Simplifying descriptions of wines can also make it more approachable.
  9. Wine isn’t typically marketed to African Americans and Hispanic audiences, unlike other bev alc categories. There has to be an effort to make wine more visible, including working with relevant organizations that represent Hispanic and African Americans.
  10. There’s a lack of representation in the workforce. Hiring more people of color and entering long-term partnerships with organizations serving diverse communities in wine can help connect more authentically with consumers.

The need for continued connection

Many of these initiatives will require an ongoing concerted effort, but the need for connecting to a more diverse range of consumers is becoming more apparent, said WMC president Dale Stratton.

What’s going to make it happen is the need for revenue. As the demographics change and as this world moves, as we start to see a softening in the business. We’re going to have to make some changes. The wine industry has done really well in the last 30 years, realistically, but we’re running into more headwinds than tailwinds right now.

Dale Stratton. WMC President.

Want to know more about the wine business in the US? Read US Wineries Struggle to Raise Prices.

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