From John Legend, to Pink, to George Clooney, to Snoop Dogg – celebrities are the perfect pair when it comes to building brand awareness and launching new wine and spirits categories. In 2019, recording artist and Grammy winner Brandi Carlile launched Washington-based wine company XOBC Cellars to raise money for her non-profit, the Looking Out Foundation. The wines are sold exclusively through their wine club, and the brand hosts wine parties at fan-based concerts. The variety of Hollywood entertainers invested in the industry has certainly fueled public interest in recent years. Used as the drink of choice at intimate social gatherings, or as an entertainment destination through trips to wineries, the wine industry has consistently remained the life of the party.
Whether they’re lending their names to a brand, or actually making the product, celebrity investments and endorsements are at an all-time high. Celebrity partnerships and co-branding arrangements are lucrative for both celebrities and producers. Famous brands attract already established audiences, making it possible to reach previously untapped segments of the market.
The question becomes, is star power and name recognition enough to attract a younger audience to wine? According to the 2023 Silicon Valley Bank State of the US Industry Report, the wine industry has failed to attract younger drinkers. A recent Forbes article by Kate Dingwall covered the findings of the report. Today’s young drinkers have a choice of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and the wine industry has to fight for their attention and loyalty. Younger drinkers want to optimize their wine experience and connect with a brand through sustainability and transparency. They seek authentic experiences that speak directly to them as consumers, and provide context and meaning. For younger audiences, personalization is key.
Savvy brands are trying to bridge the wine generation gap and make their wines more approachable, relevant and meaningful. This summer, VinoTastr, TASTR, a taste technology company, is launching a TASTR-backed individual discovery device, along with an app designed to explain wine choices by determining your individual wine taste profile. Is it the new frontier in wine marketing, where taste receptor research is changing the way people around the world choose and enjoy wine?
“Using the VinoTastr discovery kit, users perform a quick taste test and within a minute of testing, the VinoTastr app identifies one of five unique VinoTastr profiles – Sweet Avenger, Savory Crusader, Body Advocate, Balance Ambassador, and Tannin Champion” says Dr. Henry Barham, Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of TASTR.
Hollywood and entertainment events tend to be aimed at a younger audience. VinoTastr, combined with well-known marketing campaigns, can tap into potential markets that the wine industry may have previously struggled with. For younger consumers armed with their personalized profile, wine may become more accessible around the world.
Dr Henry Barham says, “Users love learning about their profile and comparing with their friends. For some, it’s a liberating moment to finally know the options that best suit their wrist.” He says, “It completely changes the way people look at wine. It takes the guesswork out of buying wine and opens the door to exploration.”
While celebrity endorsements and entertainment value are still relevant in the wine industry, the company is creating a new way to engage brands, retailers and consumers.
“Vino Tastr it celebrates the diversity of palates and opens the doors of taste science to the world of wine. Like wearing glasses for the first time; you can optimize your wine experience,” said Dr Barham
While endorsements still happen brands are more than ever looking to expand their relationship with talent to make it more authentic. A great example of this is the canned wine company Archer Roose, founded by Marian Leitner-Waldman and launched in 2014, through its partnership with Cocaine Bear star Elizabeth Banks.
On the latest episode of Fast Company’s Creative Control podcast she said of the relationship, “From my first conversation with her, I said, this is not going to be sitting in front of the camera saying, ‘This is great,’” Leitner- says Waldman. “I need you to be bought into the brand and what we’re doing. Then I want you to challenge us to think about how we can tell this message in a different and funnier way and in a way that cuts through all the noise out there.”
She then continued, “I just think that endorsements, fundamentally, are not as powerful as they used to be,” says Leitner-Waldman. “And that’s because social media has changed the game. We rely much more on peer recommendations.”
Banks were important in the subsequent growth of the company. She was involved in everything from pitches to distribution while managing her acting schedule.
VinoTastr promotes that consumers can engage with their personalized profiles. This can ease the burden of shopping for wines, and allows for simplicity when buying wine. The new technology could particularly appeal to novice wine drinkers, who can shop with peace of mind, and avoid walking into stores feeling embarrassed by their lack of experience.
Maybe Pink could concoct the perfect Sweet Avenger Rose or Snoop Dogg will drop his next sip for the Tannin Champions. The future of all famous brands and wine brands could very well come together at the intersection of science and imagination.