It feels like economists have been predicting a recession every year since the start of the pandemic, and whether or not you believe them, learning how to market a luxury product like wine when consumers are tightening their grips on their wallets is worthwhile.
By offering a thoughtful blend of exclusive experiences, storytelling, and customer engagement, wineries can emerge from these turbulent times with their bottom line intact.
In this blog post, we dive into some strategies that can help wine brands not only weather the storm but also thrive during a recession.
Identify What's Working & What's Not
Evaluating your current marketing and sales channels to identify what's effective and what's not is a critical step for any winery, especially during a recession. This process allows you to make informed decisions, optimize your marketing efforts, and ensure that your resources are used efficiently.
If the majority of your wine is sold through your wine club and you get the most wine club sign-ups during tours of your vineyard, then channel your marketing efforts toward booking more vineyard tours.
If you don't get many sales on Wednesdays, consider closing the tasting room on Wednesdays OR creating an experience or offer exclusively for midweek visitors.
Emphasize the Value of Your Experiences:
The heart of winemaking lies in creating experiences that transcend the wine itself. By highlighting the unique experiences your winery provides, you're not just selling wine; you're selling moments, emotions, and connections. It's these emotional connections that enhance customer loyalty.
- Use social media channels to show what your experiences look like from a customer's POV, and remember to show smiling, happy, DIVERSE faces!
- Share customer testimonials on your website and in your emails. This offers proof that your customer can trust you.
- Give your customers ideas on ways they can incorporate your experiences into pivotal moments and milestones in their lives, like birthdays, anniversaries, and job promotions. Remember, you're selling more than wine. You're selling memories.
Lean on your locals
Leveraging the support of your local community can be a valuable marketing strategy, especially during a recession. It seems that since the world opened back up, all of the tourists have gone abroad, leaving visitors to local wine country few and far between. So, let's instead focus our attention on the folks keeping it close to home!
- Build strong ties with your local community by participating in local events, festivals, and charity activities. Engaging with neighboring wineries and businesses and collaborating with your local visitors organizations (E.G. Visit Santa Ynez Valley, Paso Wine Country, etc) can boost your wine brand's image and create a loyal customer base.
- Establish a special wine club or loyalty program for locals. Offer benefits like special discounts on wine purchases and invitations to locals-only experiences.
- Create a locals segment in your email list or even a locals broadcast channel on Instagram where you share the aforementioned locals-only experiences.
Target the Right Audience
This is important always but especially during a recession. I recommend identifying two or three of your current customers that represent the type of customers you want more of (perhaps they are wine club members or folks that frequently purchase large quantities of wine) and inviting them to answer a few questions about what they love about your brand and how you can get more people like them. Then when you create content, be that on social media or via emails, talk directly to those people. I talk more about this in this podcast episode.
LIMITED EDITIONS, EXCLUSIVITY, & CUSTOMIZATIONS
Do not underestimate the power of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Limited edition releases, exclusivity, and even customization can all help your customers feel special even while charging a premium. Crafting limited edition wine releases and exclusive club memberships infuses a sense of rarity and prestige into your brand. By offering unique, carefully curated releases, you not only create anticipation but also establish a coveted allure around your wines. Furthermore, leveraging the exclusivity of your wine club and allowing Members to customize their shipments will enhance their customer satisfaction, leading to higher club retention. Make each interaction with your brand a bespoke and memorable experience.
I know that this can be a very scary time for any business, but remember that markets are cyclical and what we do during the downswings will help us thrive regardless. Follow these points, and don't forget to make use of free marketing channels like social media!
P.S. If you need help creating and implementing the strategies you learn in these articles, I offer 1:1 Instagram Strategy Sessions to help get you started. Learn More.