Celebrities have for a long time made use of their name and image to promote alcohol brands. However, George Clooney created the modern way to cash in on spirits by selling his tequila-related company Casamigos to the spirits giant Diageo for more than $1 billion in 2017.
“Acting used to be how I paid the rent,” Clooney said to The Sunday Times following the sale. “But I sold a tequila company for a billion f ***** dollars — I don’t need money.”
It sparked a flood of celebrities looking to duplicate his success and capitalize on the rising demand for high-end spirits and cocktails, including David Beckham’s Scotch up to Ryan Reynolds’ gin and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Tequila.
However, it’s been mainly male stars who have made money from this formula. Although there are exceptions, such as Vera Wang’s Chopin Vodka and Kendall Jenner’s 818 Tequila, The brands remain predominantly male, which is the trend that has always been evident in the overall spirit sector.
The new wave of female stars is looking to drink something that needs an upswing, that wine.
The Covid-19 virus has accelerated a variety of trends in the business of alcohol. However, the most significant gainers were premium spirits, frequently backed by famous people. Luxury spirits saw a 43% increase over the past year, led by the tequila category and American whiskey. 2021’s growth rate topped out at more than the average for the past five years, per the Distilled Spirits Council.
The U.S. wine market is the biggest in the world. Champagne and prosecco remain popular. However, American consumers drink less wine than they did twenty years ago.
Baby Boomers are the only demographic that favors wines over other beverages and the highest consumption of alcohol per capita is within the 35-55-year-old age bracket.
This has presented a huge problem for the industry, struggling to reach younger consumers.
“The spirits category is killing it right now, as are ready-to-drink cocktails, and tequila is on fire within spirits,” said Danny Brager, a long-time industry analyst for the alcohol industry. Also, since the overall purchase of alcohol does not increase much between years, “if someone is drinking more of one thing, they’re drinking less of something else,” Brager explained.
The excessive markups for wine in restaurants do not help. According to a Nielsen survey, the five-ounce portion of wine costs 72 percent more than a cup of spirits and nearly 50% more expensive than a glass of beer.
Rob McMillan, the executive vice president of Silicon Valley Bank and a prominent wine industry analyst, stated that the industry of wine is stuck with historically efficient strategies without properly considering how the consumer has transformed.
“That’s the primary threat,” McMillan stated. “You can’t substitute for this particular group of people who have viewed wine as something distinctive. It’s their alcohol of choice, and everyone following it agrees with wine at a certain point and puts it in the same class as spirits, beers, or ready-to-drink drinks — cannabis in particular.”
The Silicon Valley Bank’s State of the Wine Industry 2022 report highlights the “industry’s failure to evolve marketing that resonates with the values of younger people.”
Brands with female celebrities backing them have sought to distinguish their offerings from others and highlight concepts that are more in tune with young consumers’ preferences.
Paying attention to the size of their bodies, less alcohol content and online purchase price, and brand owners that include women and BIPOC or LGBTQ+ persons, Female celebrities have sought a niche in the wine industry that is appealing to younger buyers.
A brief list of female celebrities working with producers and vineyards to sell wines to keep up with the ever-changing consumer demand. Elizabeth Banks, Mary J. Blige, The Chicks, Cameron Diaz, Chrissie Metz, Vera Wang, and Reese Witherspoon.
Diaz, as well as Katherine Power, co-owners of the Avaline wine label, are embracing the accessibility and portability of their products in addition to the latest trends in health and wellness with organic rose and white wines available in four packs of 250ml cans, which do not require corkscrews or glassware. In addition to being more eco-friendly and environmentally friendly, the concept of canned wine with its smaller sizes allows you to enjoy wine on its own as there’s no need to open a large 750ml bottle. The idea follows the example of the expanding RTD (ready for drinking) market.
Producer and actress Elizabeth Banks emphasize sustainability in her packaging and price accessibility in her canned wine, Archer Roose wine initiative.
A wine industry seeking a more brand recognition
Tim McKirdy, managing editor of the site devoted to spirits VinePair The trend for female-owned wine has risen over the past two years.
“Wine has always had a very high barrier of entry, and it has always been difficult to navigate, especially if you’re just entering that space,” McKirdy stated. “So if you do have a celebrity out there trying to say this is a wine you can get on board with, this is a wine you can drink, and no one is going to judge you, or hey, all the information is on the label here, you can find all the ingredients, you can find no additives, labels like gluten-free, these are the things that I think people feel comfortable with,” McKirdy declared.
Women famous for their wine are also looking for ways to show their morality to younger customers who value brands with high-quality values.
The Chicks, who are well-known for standing to defend themselves being women within the world of music and be a force for change and challenge the status quo, recently entered the market for wine through the Gaslighter Wine label, which has received high marks from the wine industry due to its rose. The campaign’s marketing strategy is based on messages such as “own your power” and “speak your truth.” The corks also say: “Don’t let them fool you.”
Mary J. Blige’s Sun Goddess label emphasizes diversity, per Marco Fantinel, CEO of the winery that makes Blige’s label. Sun Goddess “hopes to shine a light on the wine industry” by creating “more opportunities for women and BIPOC representation,” Fantinel stated.
“I think this is the slice of the wine market that many people are trying to capture because that’s the one that is slipping away,” McKirdy stated. “Younger consumers do hold these values to be strong, so if they see those within a brand they care about, they’re more likely to be loyal or may even be more likely to spend a couple of dollars extra to have peace of mind that where their money is going aligns with their values,” McKirdy said.
Based on the Spirited Change Initiative, minority-owned and owned alcohol brands made less than 5 percent of the industry.
Focusing on the demands and values of the younger generation will lead McKirdy to believe that female celebrities’ wineries will eventually bring a larger public “feeling included in the world of wine.”
“It’s a traditional industry,” McMillan declared. “There are things we’re doing that are helping to evolve the industry and that are successful, so eventually we’ll get there; it’s just going to be different when we do.”
The presence of celebrities in wine could provide the publicity and financial support needed for new development in the wine industry that is becoming more accessible, affordable, and progressive, all but still maintaining high-end quality even though it’s not quite the time yet for this glam side hustle to hit the size of the billion-dollar mark as the spirits industry.