Savvy retailers are drawing young adults to their stores with short-form social media video platforms, convenient offerings, and socially conscious products. “Short-form video is the best way to engage with young adults online and introduce them to our offerings,” says Mike Fisch, director of innovation at Gary’s Wine & Marketplace, which has four stores in New Jersey and one in Napa, California. “It’s much more likely short-form videos end up in the ‘For You’ and ‘Explore’ sections on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok, and this content increases the chances we will organically be discovered by users of these platforms.”
At the three-unit convenience store chain Mendez Fuel in Miami, Instagram reels are the go-to marketing tool to attract young adults. “If you are not doing Instagram reels, I don’t think you are going to get any traction in your store,” says vice president of operations Andrew Mendez. “We just started doing some TikToks for the making of the foods and cracking open a drink. If a new product comes in or we’re trying to feature a wine, we do a reel. For Valentine’s Day, we did one for natural wines.”
At Gary’s, there is also a major emphasis on wine tastings, cheese samplings, and educational seminars. “These in-store experiences differentiate us from our online-only competitors and create a unique environment for guests that keeps them coming back to our stores,” Fisch says.
Gary’s has also modified how wines are presented in its store and online to accommodate differences by adding certain product indicators, such as organic, biodynamic, sustainable, woman-owned, or brands operated by the Black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) community. “Young adults tend to highly value environmentally and socially conscious brands,” Fisch says. “Younger consumers also tend to be health conscious.”
Healthier-drinking trends are driving sales in Miami. “The younger generation likes to know what they are drinking and that it isn’t going to be bad for them,” Mendez says. “Natural wines are by far one of my biggest sellers among young adults. They find it more intriguing than regular wine. They like to know that what they are drinking has no additives. We carry about 100 natural wine brands. Gulp/Hablo orange wine ($20 a liter) is one of my best-selling natural wines. Some people drink it like it’s their job.”
Popular offerings at Mendez Fuel include large single cans of beer, hard seltzers, and premixed spirits-based cocktails. “When I brought in White Claw in 24-ounce cans ($3.49), it completely changed the segment,” Mendez says. “High Noon does very well and just came out with a 24-ounce can ($5). It sold out quickly, but I’m getting 10 to 20 more cases. I just got the spirits-based White Claw vodka soda ($4 a 24-ounce can) last week, and it tastes pretty good.”
At Gary’s stores, younger adults drove strong 2022 sales of Aperol ($24 a 750-ml.), On The Rocks Cosmopolitan ($12 a 375-ml), and High Noon variety packs ($12 an eight-pack o 335-ml. cans). “Across wine, Moët Hennessy remains dominant in their ability to engage with younger consumers through marketing, demonstrated by sales for Veuve Clicquot Brut ($52.09 a 750-ml.) in 2022, which was our top selling wine across all categories,” Fisch says.
Another product that’s doing well among young adults in Miami is Vita Coco Spiked With Captain Morgan ($3.49 a 12-ounce can). “The category is taking off,” Mendez says. “It’s very refreshing.”
At Gary’s, Bourbons, Tequilas, and low- or no-alcohol products continue to gain traction. “Young adults are drawn to brands referenced in pop culture,” Fisch says. “In addition to the top-selling Tequilas, we are seeing a lot of customers experimenting with brands like Penta Reposado Tequila ($125 a 750-ml.).”
Non-alcoholic beer and other zero-alcohol beverages are becoming popular. “Non-alcoholic products are really taking off and they’re not going away,” Mendez says, noting that non-alcoholic beer is doing well. “The category is growing, and I’m trying to keep up with it.”