Covid-19 ravaged through the wine business like a major fire that takes with it anything that stands in the way. Many smaller wineries seem like they are on the verge of collapse. Inventory is sitting idle in many wineries for no one to come by the tasting room to pick up, as they have, summer after summer.
THE VIRTUAL WINE TASTING PHENOMENON
Attempts at marketing online with virtual wine tastings and presentations gave hope. But with a dozen or so watchers on Instagram or Zoom spending mere seconds and then dropping off, that dream also vanished fast, for many.
Even the largest of wineries have failed to attract, and, more importantly, keep the attention of consumers throughout their virtual wine tastings. The time, effort and financial investment put towards these events can be categorized by some as a waste. Especially when you involve your winemakers, sommeliers, or owners.
Consumers are tired of passive events that pitch and talk about flavours and what goes with roasted duck.
Almost no one is buying and roasting duck nowadays, folks.
No one wants to watch another talking head pitch their wine and paint pictures of beauty and flowers, either.
People want to be ENGAGED and INVOLVED, not just spoken to. There is enough of that on Netflix and the news.
DTC TAKES OFF – OR DOES IT?
By now, many wineries would have seen a huge jump in their DTC (Direct To Consumer) sales. It may get exciting to see DTC sales online rise by 100, 200, 300 percent or more year over year. But does that really mean much? Is the over-excitement warranted? This massive online DTC buying growth is merely a reaction to the lock down. It is not a reflection of brand power or marketing efforts, in most cases. In a state of lock down, most people would rather buy things online, than go to a store.
Whether you should be excited about your DTC sales or not, depends on how you answer these two questions:
1- Have my overall sales gone up year over year?
2- Am I able to convert online DTC clients to long term return buyers and wine club members, at a relatively fast rate?
If the answer is yes, to at least one of the two questions, you are in good shape, at least for now. If it’s a no, it’s important to take a step back to figure what must change.
DEER IN THE HEADLIGHTS
Now is the time to invest in new ideas, information, data, learning about your customers and markets, and in projects you contemplated years ago but never started.
You may have good ideas going in your head and around the boardroom table, but you are ‘waiting to see how things go’, once the lock down eases.
This is like being a deer in the headlights. Frozen in place while the competition gets ahead.
Ask yourself which of these two categories you fall under:
1- Will my winery be in business in 2025?
2- Is my winery at risk of going bankrupt?
JOIN THE WINNERS’ CIRCLE
If you answered yes to the first question, then you have nothing to fear. You’d want to get off your seat right now, roll up your sleeves, galvanize your team and start taking massive action (thought borrowed from Grant Cardone in his book The 10X Rule ).
Start investing in those ideas that have been percolating. Seek new ideas that will set your winery apart for the future. Aim to attract the next and biggest generation of wine buyers ever, the millennials and Gen Z’s. Use relevant technologies and roll out novel, tech based engagement programs. Seek wine tasting sensory consumer data to better understand this audience, better position brands and innovate products.
If you answered yes to question number 2, as in, you are uncertain of your future, then you too have nothing to fear. Do the same things. Take up the same attitude as the winery that knows it’ll be there in 2025 and beyond.
You have nothing ahead of you but upside. Nothing to lose and much to gain. Take out that credit card, deploy the new ideas you’ve long contemplated, and challenge your team to do the best work of their life.
Put gas into that engine so it rumbles loud. Take your brand out of obscurity. Make people talk about you. Run real virtual wine tastings that attract and hold the audience captive. Deploy tech and programs that millennials and Gen Z’s relate to, and use data to create wines you know with certainty will delight the next generation consumer or a specific, growing target group.
YOU WIN EITHER WAY
If after you do all this the wheel must stop, you would have tried, learned, and given your business and your staff the best chance of success.
The learning you carry over to your new business, will be massive.
And worry not, the credit card company or the bank will be fine too, with your business debt all written off.
What happens next is always up to us.