Marketing Lessons from the 2016 Boston Wine Expo

This weekend I had the privilege of attending the 25th annual Boston Wine Expo, the largest wine and food expo in New England. Featuring celebrity chefs and seminars from top experts, the two-day Grand Tasting celebrated how wine has evolved over the last 25 years, and also what wine and food trends are emerging in the coming years.  Considered one of the best food and wine expositions in the US, the Boston Wine Expo featured more than 1,800 wines from more than 200 wineries, and was a great place for marketing professionals to assess the current trends in the booze industry. So what’s hot and what’s not? Below I recap my top three most notable trends from this year’s festivities.


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Clever Marketing Tactics 

It’s no secret that millennials are the fastest growing segment of wine drinkers in the United States. According to Wine Market Council (WMC), millennials (defined as those aged between 21 and 38) are now the largest wine-drinking demographic in the US, making up 36% of all US wine drinkers. So for me, one of the stand-out booths came from Troublemaker Wines. The brand is clearly targeting millennials by separating themselves from the traditional stereotype of stuffy wine drinkers, and identifying themselves as a wine for a new generation: “Troublemaker is not your father’s wine; bold, youthful, and vibrant, it’s a wine for a new generation of winemakers and wine drinkers.”

Troublemaker wine is a syrah-based red blend from Paso Robles, CA. As we’ve previously reported in this blog, red blends are very popular in the wine world right now. Marketers at Troublemaker have taken note of this trend, and paired it with a smart marketing strategy.  To encourage attendees to snap pics and share them on social media, their event space at the Boston Wine Expo included a kissing booth photo op, with the tagline, “Kiss a Troublemaker” and a sign with their unique hashtag #KissaTroublemaker. To complete the kissing booth, the marketing team brought along photo booth props which included the faces of iconic troublemakers from current pop cultural, such as Donald Trump, Kanye West, and Miley Cyrus. It was an excellent way to engage the consumers with the brand, while positioning the brand as culturally relevant. These easily shareable photo booth pictures work so well with this target consumer, since millennials love any chance they get to share their activities with their social media communities (#socialcurrency).

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“Kiss a Troublemaker” photo booth included iconic troublemakers from current pop cultural, such as Donald Trump, Kanye West, and Miley Cyrus


The Rise of Alcohol Delivery Apps

From Drizly to Saucey, alcohol delivery apps are rolling out all over the country. The Boston Wine Expo, well aware of this trend, partnered with the Drync app as their official retail partner. Instead of choosing a brick and mortar location, which might have limited regional reach and inventory capabilities, the Boston Wine Expo understood their guests would want to be able to easily purchase the wines they tasted throughout the weekend. Drync made for a great event partner, as their app capabilities boast “instant image recognition of 2M+ wines, spirits, beer” and a “full commerce suite including Apple Pay and Google Wallet integration.” To encourage interaction with the app during the event, Drync was on site to bestow coveted gold balloons to the top 10 trending wines all weekend long. The gold balloons alerted attendees of the location of the day’s most popular wines, drawing even more people to the table to taste and interact with those brands.


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Coveted gold balloons were distributed by Drync to the top 10 trending wines all weekend long


Rosé Reigns Supreme

Last but not least, my favorite observation was the growing admiration of rosé wines amongst consumers and beverage trade. Despite the fact that Boston reported record-breaking low temperatures all weekend long (wind chills were clocking in around -30 degrees), consumers eagerly tasted through rosé and rosado wine flights from several producers throughout the expo. What’s the difference between rosé and rosado, you may ask? Traditionally, blush wines, which have some contact with grape skins (but not enough to be red wine) have been known as rosé, which comes from the French word for pink. But this style of wine is growing in popularity from origins all over the globe. Portuguese and Spanish-speaking producers from some of the world’s most famous wine making regions, such as Rioja, Spain, refer to these salmon-colored wines as rosado’s.  Italians may call them “rosato,” but to paraphrase Shakespeare, no matter what you call it, a rosé by any other name still tastes as sweet. And even on the coldest winter days, consumers are open to tasting and exploring this ever-growing category of wine.

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A rosado flight from Rioja Wines


My attendance at the Boston Wine Expo confirmed several trends I’ve seen sneaking into the market. Wine drinkers are skewing younger than ever, and they enjoy less-snobby options such as red blends and rosé wines. They’re quick to snap a pic, and then share those images with their social media communities. And in the world of, millennials want simple access to shopping for their favorite brands. The Boston Win Expo had all of that and more, making it a great weekend for wine marketers and consumers alike. Cheers!


Photo Credits: Boston Wine Expo, @Troublemaker Instagram page, @90pluscellars Instagram page, @OliviaLovesWine

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