Primarily due to the fact that most wineries rely on sales through their tasting room, the wine industry is highly fragmented and very competitive, which means winery marketing is very important. Not only is their direct competition from the local market but the consumer has a choice to go to the liquor store to pick up a bottle of wine. Don’t think wine is just another commodity? Think about the 1000′s of brands from around the world you are competing against.
This makes it even more important to know your target market and create an atmosphere that they enjoy. Despite what many winemakers who are into the art of winemaking say, it isn’t so much about the wine as it is the experience. While the wine has to be good, and most wineries make a good wine, a huge portion of your market will want to drink the Kool-aid wine. They like it sweet and it doesn’t take a great deal of expertise to make it. However, many a winery went out of business making the “best” wine and not catering to the customer. It doesn’t matter how right you are, if you plan on staying in business, you better lean to market your winery and make what the customer wants.
Many wineries, especially those that compete for the tasting room sale are terrible at marketing. Most wineries don’t know who their target market is (well lot’s of people like to drink wine, right?), what category they are in or how to become the leader in that category and ignore the trends in the wine business and target market.
To market your wine a good starting place is to have a story, reflect on the vineyard. Don’t focus too much on the how you make the wine, after about 2-3 sentences, 99% aren’t really paying attention (sorry for those who have spent so long making great wine, but it’s true) . Relationship marketing is where the great wineries excel. Remember people could take considerable time to connect and buy from you or go down the street to the liquor store. If you can give the customer a great experience and get to know them when they come to your winery, you are more likely to have them come back and buy your brand from the liquor store.
Marketing your wine also takes into account more than just your promotions. It includes the atmosphere of your winery, design of the label, store displays, tasting events, employee attitudes and more. Everything a person sees or associates with your wine should be thought of as marketing and should be made to resonate positively with the customer.
Wine is an experience business. Winery marketing should be as well.