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Perspectives

Vino para todos

Tam Le, Strategist, New York

According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, in 2012, the Hispanic population grew to 53 million, a 50% increase from 2000, accounting for more than half of the country’s growth during this time period.1 It’s projected that by 2030, almost 1 out of 4 drinking-age adults in America will be Hispanic.2

This shift in population presents huge opportunities for all businesses and brands, and particularly alcohol beverage companies and distributors. The wine industry has been particularly slow to take full advantage of this change in the U.S. market. Currently, wine is the least favorite alcohol beverage among Hispanics (only 23% of Latinos drink wine versus 33% of the total population).2 When you do the math, the effects of ignoring this potent demographic are staggering. If the wine industry were able to bring Hispanic wine consumption up to the level of the broader U.S. population, annual wine consumption would increase by nearly 50 million cases over the next 20 years.3

While it is true, that historically Hispanics have preferred beer or spirits to wine, we are starting to see some changes in behavior. Between 2005 and 2010, wine consumption rates for Hispanics rose by nearly 50%, over three times that of non-Hispanics.4 “We’ve gone from wine pickers to wine drinkers,” says John Hernandez, executive director of the Fresno-based Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.5 This growth is coming from two places: affluent, U.S.-born Latinos and their parents. To win their hearts, both groups will require very different strategies.

The younger generation, raised in the U.S., is more familiar with and open to trying wine than their foreign-born parents. Millennials in general are marked by their increased wine consumption 6; nevertheless, it would be a disservice to lump Hispanic Millennials with the broader population. Similar to other minority groups, young Latinos have a sense of belonging to two cultures: their native one and their adopted one. As a result, they are taking pride in their unique heritage and seeking out Latino winemakers, such as Lupe Maldonado, who founded his own vineyard after moving from Mexico to California.

But, Latino winemakers aren’t the only ones appealing to Hispanic consumers. The Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux 7, or the Bordeaux Wine Council, has realized that winning over the Hispanic population is crucial for them to gain success in America. In order to rid consumers of the preconceived notion that Bordeaux wines are expensive, out-of-reach, and intimidating, the council partnered with Puerto Rican-born chef and TV host, Doreen Colondres , to launch Viva Bordeaux, a free online recipe and wine pairing guide to show consumers how well their wines can pair with classic Latin dishes.8.

Now we see that Millennial Hispanics are starting to teach their parents to like wine.9 Because of their lack of familiarity with wine, and sometimes alcohol in general, the older generation favors more approachable wines, both in taste and in price. Perhaps Underwood’s packaging of wine in a can, a more gender-neutral and accessible take on wine, could be the approach that replaces beer for older Hispanic consumers.

Taking the mindset of each generation and their familiarity with wine into consideration allows the wine industry to create strategies that would take full advantage of the growing Hispanic market. For second-generation Americans raised in the U.S., brands must acknowledge their consumers’ Latino roots and appeal to their sense of cultural pride either through brand story or communications. When speaking to their parents and recent immigrants, however, go beyond messaging and consider the taste profile of your products, the pricing strategy, as well as the actual packaging structure. These strategies may seem like a lot of work for one specific target demographic, but if the numbers indicate anything, it’s effort that will more than pay off.

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