How can your wine brand stand out among thousands of competitors? It’s about more than having the most eye-catching packaging or best shelf spot — although these are important factors. To get people to reach for your product repeatedly, learn how to stand out across the customer journey using a digital-first media strategy.
To accomplish this effectively, wine brands need a holistic, omnichannel marketing strategy that ladders up to full-funnel goals:
- Establish emotional connection and awareness to drive brand trial
- Move into the consideration set for target audiences
- Grow in-store and ecommerce wine sales
However, the success of a full-funnel strategy hinges on becoming deeply in tune with your wine consumers’ preferences and behaviors.
Today’s wine buyers skew older and are more affluent. Premium wine sales are rising, while cheaper options and sales among younger generations are experiencing a decline. According to a report from Beverage Daily, “The issue of greatest concern for the wine business today continues to be the lagging participation in the wine category by the large millennial generation.” However, some alternative wine segments are seeing growth with younger demographics. For example, 16% of consumers purchased natural wine in 2021 and sparkling wines are also rising in popularity.
Wine marketers have an exciting opportunity to identify ways to educate new consumer segments, show up in key commerce channels and drive marketing ROI. The key is to avoid early mass media investment. Instead, prioritize smart learnings gained through digital activations that are audience-focused and creative excellence-obsessed. Here’s how to bring this to life:
Start at awareness — testing and amplifying emotionally compelling and relevant messaging with prospecting audiences. Then, by activating a flexible, omnichannel approach, you can learn who your best audience is. You’ll also learn which channels you can reach them on and what messaging resonates best with them.
In this phase, influencer marketing is an ideal channel for wine brands, especially to reach the key millennial/Gen-Z demographics that have been slower adopters of wine. Social media is a critical channel for emerging brands to establish awareness among new audiences. Additionally, connected TV and digital-out-of-home can be high-impact brand-building channels to achieve mass reach with efficiency.
After reaching users in the discovery phase, deploy smart segmentation and retargeting to stay top of mind. It’s important to connect with users across various media touch points, from social to display to digital video, with an omnichannel strategy. AI can help you predict and serve the right messaging at the right time. You can also employ dynamic creative optimization to tailor messaging that complements previous touch points, such as add-to-cart or existing cart reminders.
Crossing the final boundary from ad impression to ‘add to cart’ can be challenging. The good news — while there is major potential to drive in-store sales with digital advertising, there is also a rapidly growing ecommerce and D2C market for wine brands.
Here’s how to optimize wine sales in each of these core commerce channels:
How do you move beyond being an impulse purchase to make your product an intentional shopping list item? Work to establish awareness and consideration before the shopping trip. Sure, having in-store activations are important, but having targeted digital touch points ahead of the store visit will help your brand stand out in the highly competitive wine and spirits market. Retail media can be a great tool to reach prospective audiences and then track them to the point of purchase with closed-loop measurement.
Many wine and spirits brands are capitalizing on a direct-to-consumer model. D2C wine shipping is legal in 47 states, giving it an advantage over spirits, which are only available for D2C shipping in a few states. These D2C wine sites offer immense value for brands beyond just profitable sales. They also give you the opportunity to collect consumer data and establish brand loyalty through subscription models and user logins.
However, to steer your audience away from mass retailers, you need to focus on creating a seamless, personalized and memorable shopping experience. To build loyalty, find ways to delight users. Utilize first-party data from their initial purchase to make personalized connections and deliver unexpected incentives. Email marketing allows you to maintain a steady pulse without fatiguing your customers. Serving ads for items complementary to previous purchases can also be effective with enough post-purchase buffer time.
Finally, ecommerce marketplaces are another booming area for wine sales. Online wine purchases grew by an estimated 15% in 2022 on both digital marketplaces and delivery provider apps like Drizly and Instacart. With convenience as a leading factor driving digital wine purchases, tapping into these frictionless ecommerce channels offers a significant growth opportunity.
However, even with the ease of digital access, wine purchasing requires some degree of consumer knowledge, especially for those on the younger end of the legal drinking age spectrum. Ecommerce listings should allow wine brands to educate, process and demonstrate the value of their product over others.
In summary, driving growth in your wine sales requires a dedication to keeping consumers at the heart of your marketing initiatives. To do that, you must:
- Establish a deep understanding of your audience and where you can reach them
- Tailor a personalized shopping experience for each segment using numerous touch points that moves consumers from education to purchase
- Build an omnichannel ecommerce strategy with convenient purchasing opportunities
- Consistently optimize your strategy to stay competitive and relevant
Elise Stieferman is the Director of Marketing and Business Strategy at Coegi, a digital marketing agency. She leads marketing and thought leadership efforts, bringing innovative ideas to the forefront for new and existing clients.