Experience marketing brings the opportunity of turning consumers into ambassadors. Wine Tourism is doing an exceptional job for the wine industry, but to be really successful, we have to do more than entertain.
Much has been said, also on this blog, about Experience and how it can make the product more accessible, less intimidating and easier to enjoy. Today’s consumers expect a brand experience. They want to interact, understand and become involved with the brand. Wine tourism does this very well, but while exclusive tastings, fine-dining and interesting things to do are very enjoyable, the wine experience can’t stay on the estate.
To take the wine experience further, we should not forget about another very important element to wine tourism: Education. Beautifully intertwined with entertaining, education is an imperative part of wine tourism. While I am all for the enjoyment of wine to be more inclusive and less intimidating, better knowledge enables better enjoyment. Knowledge empowers consumers. Understanding cork faults, having some idea about the temperature at which wine should be served, why stemware is important and of course how to make complementing food and wine choices, will take away from the intimidation and add to the enjoyment.
Education through wine tourism gives consumers the knowledge they need to be confident in making wine selections and opens them up to the interesting world of wine. Wine tastes better when served at the right temperature and the Cabernet Sauvignon will definitely be better when reserved for the leg of lamb and not served with the goat’s cheese soufflé! Real enjoyment can result in wine being part of an everyday life and perhaps more frequent, moderate consumption.
But in a world where knowledge is readily available, are we not underestimating the consumer? Do they not already know these things. Not really, if we look at the research Californian wine company, E&J Gallo did in the leading wine market that is the UK. According to The Drinks Business, studies revealed that 73% of Brits are intimidated by wine lists. A further 58% feel that they do not have enough wine knowledge to make a confident selection. 36% were not sure what to look out for when the waiter present them with a tasting and only 18% base their wine choice on the food they will be having with it.
Even just basic information can help consumers with their insecurities. Such information is easily shared as part of the entertainment at a wine estate and even through well-curated, accessible social media. The internet has a wealth of wine knowledge, but if food and wine are not your main interests, you might not be googling. The industry has to create interest and make wine drinkers aware that there are better ways to enjoy wine. Online behaviour can be easily measured and interpreted and information can be tailored and presented to the relevant audience in an accessible way. Online communication and social media relationships can be your partner in sharing wine knowledge.
Education of the consumer does however start with the education of everyone involved in the wine chain. Frontline staff in tasting rooms and wine boutiques are obvious, but how much do we do to empower retail staff? Do they understand wine? Are they able to make good wine suggestions? And how much do we spend on waiter training?
Some understanding of wine can make an immense difference to how wine is enjoyed and it will serve wine companies well to keep both the wine chain and consumers informed.
The Experience is important, but it can do much more for us if, in addition to entertainment, it also educates.