Addressing an industry audience at Wine Vision 2014 in London last week, Balliet warned that the industry had six years to make wine more accessible – in terms of its marketing, branding – to access what by that time will be a massive 70m-strong market of millennial consumers.
“In six years they’re all be of drinking age in the US – 70m potential customers. In my view it’s almost too little too late, but I think people should forget their own brands and just market wine,” he tells BeverageDaily.com in this exclusive video shot at the show.
“If people buy wine, they’re inevitably going to buy your wine. You see that happening with the smaller regions – ‘Let’s just get people to buy Bordeaux or Languedoc wines,’” he added.
“But that needs to happen with wine in general. Because you have spirits, beer. This growth. Who knows if it’s going to last?” Balliet said.
“The wine industry’s assuming people are going to start buying $50 bottles. What if they don’t? You should at least try to get them to. Right now? We’ll see. I’m optimistic, but something needs to be done,” he added.
Explaining how Second Glass came up with its successful Wine Riot tasting and education events in the US, which it launched in 2009, Balliet said he and his business partner believed at the time that existing wine events were failing both consumers and wineries.
“We wanted to take the traditional walk around wine event, and update it for a new generation. We dimmed the room and did it at night, added some music, we also built a mobile app,” he said.
“We tried to bring wine and it’s all about education – but it’s actually a fun thing to do.”
A central subtext underpinning Wine Riot is a drive to make wine more accessible and dispense with the technical language that, as Balliet points out, has moved out of the winery into marketing copy.
“The industry is growing rapidly, but that might not be because of the wine industry. The computer industry in the nineties you can really look at,” he said.
“You had all these different producers, but no-one knew how to market them. It wasn’t until Apple came along with the iMac – they didn’t tell people how fast the computer was,” he added.
“They told them what they could do with the computer. People want to know ‘this wine works on a date, this one works on the beach – this is good with fish, or chicken. Just general basic information.”