Here’s what to keep in mind when creating your marketing strategy:
Wine isn’t just a drink anymore; it’s a tourism industry
A lot of small wineries focus their efforts on getting their product to market in the traditional way of getting them on store shelves or listed with a distributor. While this may be important for growth, and it is certainly good for brand awareness, it is important to remember that wine is no longer just a bottle that is simply purchased by the consumer; your brand and product is much more than that. It is also about the customer experience and destination. The wine tourism industry has drastically picked up over the past decade and has now become a go-to weekend endeavor for many people. Because of this, marketing efforts should also be spent in getting people to the wineries to experience who you are through tours, tastings, education, festivals, food pairings, etc. This introduction to the visitor and consumer helps to tell your story and establish potential promotors of your product, the experience and the destination.
One way to accomplish this is through open houses, music festivals, holiday-themed parties, and wine club member special events. By getting people to your winery you are almost instantly more likely to persuade them to purchase a bottle of wine while they’re there, as well as become a top-of-mind brand when they are later searching for a bottle of wine at the store or perhaps more importantly sharing their experience about your brand with their family and friends through word-of-mouth.
Thus, a good balance of finding stores to sell your wine (such as specialty stores or wine cellars) and attracting people to visit your winery is a sure to way to make it to the top of the industry through brand-building while providing differentiation with your competitors.
Wine requires visual marketing
The vast rolling hills of Virginia vineyards demands visual attention. It is no secret that social media in the wine industry is a required channel in your marketing strategy, but how exactly do you present the winery in the correct visual way?
I’ve seen a lot of wineries post pictures of random groups of threes and couples posed with their wine glasses in hand for a quick Instagram picture. While this is fine and will generate a few likes, there is more that can be done with social media.
Give your social media fan the experience and make them as if they were right there with you. Post pictures of tastings, events, parties and music festivals in the form of crowd pictures and not just a few random people pulled to the side for a picture. Utilize video to tell the story about your winery and vineyards, about the types of wines you have. Show them the ‘how’ and ‘what’ is behind the making of your wines; post interesting and visually attractive posters of future events. In the wine tourism industry, almost every social media update should be accompanied by a relevant image or video.
Wine is just as popular with Millennials as with other generations
Older generations tend to think of Millennials as beer drinking, liquor chucking party animals. However, to some extent, this just is not true. As a Millennial, I’ve went on countless trips to wineries with friends and have consumed more time than was required in choosing a wine at the local wine cellar.
Millennials love wine. Going back to point number one, Millennials love the experience that wine gives. The band playing on the front terrace of the winery, the tasting room filled with friends, and the chance to get away from jobs, school and the city to head over to a winery and just to get away from it all. Important to note: all of the Millennial generation will make their way to the legal drinking age in just a couple years; therefore, now is the time to focus a sizable portion of your marketing efforts, platforms, and strategy on them.
Your branding and labels should be as unique as you are
On the shelf in the store, or in the tasting room of your winery, this is your one shot to sell that bottle of wine. The name and the label artwork are crucial in persuading consumers to choose your wine.
When you think about your target market, (yes, wineries need a defined target market) who do you see and what do they currently buy? Your naming of wines, wine clubs, and the artwork should be centered on this. Every font, every label size and shape, and artwork will convey a story to several different consumer groups and in order to attract your target market, you should research competitors labels, typography of outside-of-industry companies your target market is fond of, and utilize focus groups and research surveys in samples of the target market for direct feedback from that target market.
You have a story to tell – your labeling is an excellent vehicle to shape that story – don’t miss the opportunity!
By: Justin Ashwell, Partner