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  • Writer's pictureJinglin Zhang

Social media and wine companies - different approaches to social media by the wine industry

Updated: May 6, 2020

Social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WeChat has diverse role, from advertising, communicating with buyers to e-commerce. Social media are popular among wine industry because they are free to use easy to start and target millennial and generation Y who are becoming main force of consumption in 10 years according to Wine Intellegence. However, social media is not magic portion and does not have one fit all nature. Successful approaches are tailored to companies nature and specific goals, such as building authentic brand, maintaining relationship with buyers, increasing online sales or driving offline traffic sales, etc. Hence, one’s success is not necessarily applicable to other company. This essay will first discuss weather company should rely on social media at all at start. Secondly, this essay will assess the reasons and conditions of successful approaches by the wine industry with example of e-commerce distributors, key opinion leaders and small and medium size winery.

Not all company needs to reply on social media strategy for success. Social media helps to build authentic and fuller image of brand persona, which is more helpful for wineries, restaurant, distributors to engage consumers sharing same value. In the contrary, volume and cooperative brands often use social media as a supplementary tool to other marketing means. In fact, marketing director of Santa Rita Jaime de la Barre claims that consumers purchase in average once a year. Brand content is less important than brand logo. Hence, Facebook campaign plays rather minor role in branding and is complementary to other marketing tools, among which the most sales driven to be in store display. Hence, it is important to recognize first if social media has affinity to company’s branding strategy.

Contrary to most people think, social media can be sales driven if the right tone and content is made for the right public. In China, with WeChat platform, publications of video and articles can be directed to purchasing page. Lady penguin claims to achieve 20 million GBP turn over in 2019. Shanghan Wang, the Lady Pengiun, successfully built her persona through informal and viral videos imitating snobbish drinkers. The clearly defined and consistent posts of casual, fun and eye catchy articles successfully targeted largest segment of consumers - social newbies segment. The dilemma of Lady Penguin is the challenge of increasing in professional image and premiumisation of the product, as the consumers will grow their knowledge. The cheap and cheerful approach might have its drawback in longterm.

Other sales driven social media strategy is by influencers. Public figures such as Instagram star are proven to lead wine trend and can push sales of a region and producers. This strategy is suitable for “cool” brand that has narratives and a distinct visual identity. The most dramatic wine is Frank Conellisen’s Etna Rosso range. Instagram star Action Bronson once expressed how delicious is Susucaru on TV show Viceland. The wine was searched 20k times in the month of the show versus 1k times the previous entire year. Instagram famous producers Domaines des Mirror and Auvernois are as pricey as Grand Cru Burgundy and are sold our in every bars, which proves the effectiveness of social media in setting benchmark and creating trends. However, increasing rejection on paid advertising and legal regulations on advertising also set limit to influencers. The effectiveness of influencer is questionable if they have to declare paid advertising.

Social media is found useful by successful small and medium size winery whose emphasis on their viticulture and winemaking philosophy. It is a useful tool for them to maintain relationship with buyers and keep consumers posted about vineyard work, vintage condition. Cristiana from Tiberio winery in Abruzzo affirmed Instagram is as important as e-mail in keeping good relationship with importers. By sharing pictures, articles and awards, she keeps buyers aware of brands achievement. It is also a simple way for them to share with their audiences and clients. Although being less sales driven and difficult to quantify the effectiveness, regular posts on Instagram, Facebook and WeChat can keep the soft power of brands strong and tighten relationship with clients.

Moreover, medium and small size winery often has less marketing budget and traveling globally can be costly. Social media gives possibility to be connected to the world and be discovered through sharing and hashtag at zero cost. Roberto Henriquez, the most successful natural wine producer in Itata region admits importance of Instagram to get to know buyers, journalists around the world who make up his 7000 followers on Instagram. However, as Jamie Goode explained in his speech about social media, establishing presence on social media is a a long process and consistent effort and time need to be invested. The face of the brand is inseparable from the owner, in order to be credible and authentic. For Roberto Henriquez, social media is part of the branding strategy and as the owner, his own look and persona is linked to the brand. Long term dedication and interesting persona of owner are two conditions for success that small and medium size wineries should consider before adopting social media route.

Wine industry includes diverse operators such as large, medium small wineries, distributors, retailers restaurants, educators and journalists. Each one’s successful approach to social media can be diverse and for achieving different objectives, some more sales driven and some more for long term branding. Role of social media can be from supplementary to vital depending the size and value proposition of company. From e-commerce and wineries tailoring brand image suitable for spread on social media, to a supportive role in wineries communication with consumers and buyers, it is clear that those who succeed understand what brand needs from social media and how much effort and what type of effort is required to achieve it.


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