How are Wine Brands Engaging with Today’s Wine Consumer?


How are Wine Brands Engaging with Today’s Wine Consumer?

5/15/18 San Francisco, CA – At DTC Wine Workshops, this question comes up on a regular basis among our winery clients across the nation. Wine consumer engagement trends have disrupted the wine industry for the past decades as enthusiasts can now visit a tasting room within a two-hour drive time from home in most states! The direct to consumer sales channel is now the fasting growing revenue stream in the wine business and over 9,000 wineries are competing for the attention of wine buyers in America. What we have known about visitation to iconic Napa and Sonoma wine regions has been turned upside down. At the same time tasting fees were increasing and “reservations required signs” were going up at many properties in these iconic regions, new tasting rooms were popping up across the nation with tasting fees ranging from $5-$15. There is now a winery experience for everyone. Those who want to visit iconic wine regions to experience the history of the wine industry in luxury settings will seek out a winery experience in Napa or Sonoma. Others on a smaller budget will look for a wine tasting experience closer to home.

Do tasting fees really matter when it comes to visitation?

YES! Seated, reservation style tastings appeal to a luxury wine buyer and average order values are four to six times greater as a result. Be sure to invite new visitors to engage in a variety of ways that appeal to most based on interests. Not everyone wants a $5 tasting fee so be sure to use marketing communication in a way that attracts the right audiences to your experiences. VIP, Private, Intimate Experiences = higher price-points and luxury buyers will appreciate these types of visitor options.

Tasting Fees are not a money maker but are simply positioned to cover costs, associate value with education/experience offered and also leveraged as a conversion tool to wine purchase. When setting an appropriate and competitive tasting fee based on region and experience offered, be sure to keep these principles in mind.

According to TripAdvisor, Google Reviews and Yelp, “fun and inviting” tasting room experiences found in regions such as Paso Robles, Lodi and Livermore appeal to wine enthusiasts happy with a $10- $15 tasting fee. 5-Star consumer reviews are common among wine brands offering great service as well as “fun and affordable” tasting experiences. Reviewers talk positively about wine brands offering affordable tasting fees are are very vocal with their negative reviews as it relates to an expensive or “over-priced” tasting fee as seen many times in reviews. So what does this mean for winery marketers today?

Tip #1 Wine brands offering genuine visitor experiences at an affordable price have the ability to effectively engage with a national audience of wine enthusiasts. This message needs to appeal to prospective customers in all digital marketing channels. Using “invitations” to catch the attention of potential visitors is a smart marketing tool. If your winery can offer an “entry level” tasting experience fee at $25-$35, you will have the ability to capture the attention of most wine enthusiasts in broad marketing campaigns. Obviously if your winery can only accommodate a limited number of private appointments each month, you may want to start with a $50 experience fee to better qualify those who want a private and more elevated experience.

PRO TIPS: How is your brand extending invitations through the winery website, social channels, blog content, e-newsletters and rating/review platforms? Take some time to shop your winery from the eyes of a prospective visitor to ensure your brand is getting it right. More than 50% of the time we cannot find a “Visit” tab in a winery website when conducting digital audits. This is low hanging fruit friends. Simply invite prospective customers to visit wherever your brand is listed in the digital world. AND…. don’t forget to invite qualified visitors back before they leave your tasting room! Get the opt-in to mailing list by positioning meaningful invitations and not an offer to subscribe to yet another newsletter. Include an invitation card in the wine package at time of checkout to encourage first-time, local guests to return within 60 days.

Tip #2 Use relevant, fun and interactive content when engaging with a variety of audiences – customize subject lines to appeal to various target audiences. Effective wine consumer marketing is no longer a one-size-fits-all process. Winery marketers need to be “data segmentation gurus” to get this piece right every time. Open rates are declining among club member list segments and this is a trend we continue to watch carefully at DTC Wine Workshops. Customized messages and media needs to be crafted in a way that appeals to a variety of wine buyers in various regions across the nation. For example, a 2-3 minute video message positioned at the top of a new release email is a proven method for communicating this important information and ensure open rates reach 60% plus. Read the latest statistics about video consumption and conversion to truly understand why your wine brand must be developing video content. Leveraging local events and press coverage around the event is another way to appeal to connected consumers through social outlets and also track conversion from social to website pages such as “reservations” and “store”. For example, Bottle Rock Napa Valley has 155,327 followers on Facebook today. What kind of exposure could your Napa-based winery gain from interacting with this Facebook page to share fun content to support the music festival? “How to get festival ready with ____ wine brand” or talk about the type of wines some of the main acts are drinking based on latest press. Be a part of this important conversation to reach new audiences.

Tip #3 Meet wine enthusiasts where they are. Get to know your ideal target audiences and become a part of their social conversations to stay relevant. When a group visits the tasting room, hosts need to meet them where they are in the conversation many times to effectively present wines and convert at a higher level. Large groups to convert to case sales and wine club so try to accommodate if space and staff allows. The same principle applies when engaging with new audiences through social media outlets. How many times can your brand talk about terroir or harvest or carbonic maceration? How many images of the vineyards can a winery eat share before social followers disengage? Stop serving the same conversation and content that every other brand in your region is sharing and develop relevant and unique conversations that are lifestyle based and appeal to your social followers based on their current conversation.

Ready to build a Strategic Consumer Engagement Plan for your wine brand? Contact us HERE to get started!


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About Sandra Hess

Sandra Hess, founder of DTC Wine Workshops and the DTC Consultant Network is a public speaker on the subject of direct to consumer wine sales and customer retention in the US.