One of my practice areas focuses on branding for wineries. A typical New York winery is operated as a labor of love and the owners rarely have industry experience in branding. So, how do you go about defining your winery’s brand? How will it best be marketed to consumers? The first step is defining your target consumer.
Factor #1: Research statistics. Start with researching some industry statistics, surveys and trends to see what you can learn. According to a survey of 4,300 women at a global vinexpo, women prefer reds, drink wine most often with meals, and their purchasing decisions are based on the entire product (grape variety, label design, shape of bottle). This tells us that bottle and label design are important to the consumer when picking between several wines at a wine store. The survey also revealed that the reasons why women drink wine are that they like the taste (92%), it goes well with food (71%), and is compatible with a healthy, balanced diet (97%). Self-image does not play a role in selecting wine as their drink of choice – women do not drink it to be trendy. Thus, your marketing should probably include food and wine pairings and recipes for healthy locavore meal options.
Factor #2: Study each consumer niche. These trends do not necessarily apply to each consumer niche, so you will want to study each kind and determine which will be your focus. Millennial Women (specifically, Generation Y born in the 1980s and 1990s) are different in their consumer buying. They prefer to buy on visual appeal and name recognition rather than winemaking region. They are brand savvy and willing to experiment. Technology (social networking) is the key to targeting this generation. You need to create a social buzz around the brand to increase sales. Social media should play a serious role in your marketing plan. Use it to make your products part of pop culture to attract this group.
Factor #3: Marketing your space. Where do you spend your marketing budget? Statistics show that your tasting room is where you need to give a great experience to prospective customers. While websites are important in this day and age, they are not your primary revenue generator. Your website should encourage customers to visit you winery. Once there, your tasting room should play a central role in driving business. This means everything from the layout to retail availability to kind and quality of service.
Factor #4: Tap into the local community. Where do small wineries find local customers? While tasting rooms are the primary retail consumer sales channel for wineries, wine clubs come in as the second. Internet sales are third. About 65%of wineries have wine clubs and 77% of the wine club members enrolled while visiting the winery’s tasting room. If you don’t already have one, wine clubs are a good revenue source. They have low attrition and most customers remain active members for about two years. This can be a great way to build a loyal following.
Factor #5: Consider the retail trend. What is the retail trend? Consumers are not buying less wine, but they are buying less expensive wines. Most of the growth in the winery industry comes from the under $10 per bottle category. You should examine your product line and branding and make adjustments to take advantage of current retail trends.
As you continue to develop your brand and marketing plan, consider these five factors. Take some time to research and understand how they might affect your individual business. Most importantly, realize that this task is dynamic – your strategy should adjust to changes in trends, which requires a schedule of comparing your strategy to current trends and demands and making adjustments as necessary.