In early-mid 2020 wine producers were forced to make a significant switch to their marketing model. With consumers unable to visit cellar doors (previously the second most popular purchasing method), wine brands were forced to adapt their marketing and sales strategy from encouraging cellar door visits to driving online sales. The industry had to change.
Successful wine brands during this time quickly learned that fostering and maintaining client confidence is critical to developing a devoted following. Getting to know the consumer and implementing their feedback proved invaluable. Wineries that created an engaging customer experience by getting to know their consumer's desires while weaving their brand story into the experience, flourished.
A starting point for many wineries included using initiative and creative approaches to become more relevant and customer-centric, to differentiate among the competition. In time, wine producers took their customer service to the next level by going straight to the consumer for feedback. The brands that did this received insights which allowed them to provide a higher level of service that met their needs and expectations.
"We manage our customer expectations by listening and trying to anticipate their needs. Communication touch points are more important than ever as it built tolerance to challenging circumstances. What we found most effective also was a combination of understanding the customer and telling a brand story that people buy into." (Medium sized SA winery)
Many wine brands moved away from the traditional wine buying experience, in favour of something more innovative, relevant and personalised. This helped them appeal to a more interested and engaged audience.
"Given the market is flooded with many brands, to do it well you need to find the right customer and tailor the offer to them. Deliver exactly what they want." (Large sized SA winery)
"In 2020, we changed our messaging as we were very conscious of everyone’s situation of being stuck at home. We stayed true to our brand. Given our customers are across the country, we split our database to be more relevant and appropriate". (Medium sized WA winery)
Wine brands quickly realised that in order to grow their online sales, they needed to tailor their offers specifically to the audience. Brands distinguished themselves from the competition by identifying the best customer and delivering exactly what they wanted. However, this was only half of the challenge.
Everyone wants to feel special. The brands that made their customers feel special were the brands that will be remembered long after the customer completes their engagement with the brand.
"Personalised experiences and value-added extras make people feel like they are special and that the business is considerate of their personal preferences, invariably leading to purchases not only at the cellar door but even online." (Wine Australia)
Small wineries did a lot of things right when it come to engaging with their customers. Adding value through personalisation, layered with going above and beyond to meet customers needs proved a valuable exercise. It's clear the wine brands who invested in the customer experience saw the benefits.
Moving forward, the wine brands that have implemented this strategy will stand out in the minds of their customers and create loyal followers of their brand. The ones that resist this change will be forgotten by the consumer shortly after they walk out the door. If competing brands don't change their approach, they'll be left behind.
The recipe for successfully transitioning customers from cellar door sales to online sales during the unprecedented time was at a foundational level to deliver on customers expectations. Following this, going above and beyond to create an experience that made the customer feel special, important and considered, put the brand in prime position to stand out among the competition.
A strong brand story plays a significant role in your branding however wine brands need to take a break from constantly talking about their own story. Start listening. Create a dialog where your brand does the listening and hear what the customer has to say. Endless talking, disguised as marketing, will only make them switch off rather than tune in.
Who knows what kind of experience the consumer wants better than the consumer themselves? Listen and adapt.