Consumer Attitudes and Behaviors towards Wine Purchases: Marketing & Social Media
By: Abby Miller
Marketing is a key strategy for wineries, one that cannot be ignored, and using social media to inform consumers about the winery, wines, and events is an excellent way to build relationships with customers. John Gillespie, founder and CEO of Wine Opinions, stated that two-thirds of core wine drinkers (those who drink wine at least once a week) and 40% of marginal wine drinkers (those who drink wine less frequently) use the Internet in some form to get information about wine (Nichols, 2011). More than half of all wine drinkers are on Facebook; 25% use YouTube and Twitter (Nichols, 2011). The focus of this post will be to alert the industry about the Mid-Atlantic wine consumer’s use of social media and how important it is for wineries to develop an online presence (it’s really important, by the way!).
Many wineries are unsure whether social media will benefit their businesses and may be even more confused as to what platform(s) to choose and what to include on such sites. Consumers who participated in our Internet survey were asked to select, from a provided list, what social media components they felt were mandatory for a winery to offer. Figures 1 and 2 present some of the data with responses being segmented by participants’ state of residence.
Facebook is clearly the front-runner, for all consumers residing in each of the three states, as 41.8 to 48.2% of participants believed that this social media tool is “mandatory” for a winery to implement. However, this is not to say that wineries should ignore the other tools available for connecting with customers. Social media research indicates that certain demographic groups tend to visit specific social media sites more often than others, so it would be in a winery’s best interest to consider their customer base, survey them on their use of select social media sites, and develop a social media strategy based on these findings.
Figure 2, below, indicates participants’ responses pertaining to the importance of email newsletters and winery websites, of which half (52.1 to 53.8%) indicated that a “website for promoting winey and wines produced” was “mandatory” and slightly fewer (46.4 to 49.6%) selected “website for promoting the winery and from which wines can be purchased” as being “mandatory.” This data coincides with many articles that emphasize the importance of businesses implementing their own website. Entrepreneurs who have created websites for their companies have stated that their sales have increased, time-consuming phone calls have decreased, and it has brought more people to their stores (Associated Press, 2014).
Of the options presented and data in Figure 2, results indicated that both website choices were the top components participants felt were “mandatory,” thus wineries that do not have websites should strongly consider developing one and include information about wines produced, promoting the winery, and, if possible, a mechanism for purchasing wineries from their website.
Overall, it is clear that participants within the Mid-Atlantic region use social media and visit these outlets frequently to gain information about wineries in their area. If you have not been using social media as an additional marketing tool, go do it now!
Abigail Miller is a Master’s student at Penn State University, specializing in wine marketing. Her interests lie mainly within understanding the marketing and social media strategies appropriate for independent wineries, but she also enjoys learning about the production and wine making side of the business. Her hope is to one day become knowledgeable in all aspects of running a winery.
Research & Thesis Advisory Team:
- Kathleen Kelley, Professor, Horticultural Marketing and Business Management, The Pennsylvania State University
- Jeffrey Hyde, Professor, Agricultural Economics, The Pennsylvania State University
- Denise Gardner, Extension Enologist, Department of Food Science, The Pennsylvania State University
- Brad Rickard, Assistant Professor, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University
- Ramu Govindasamy, Professor, Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, Rutgers University
- Karl Storchmann, Clinical Professor, Economics Department, New York University; Managing Editor, Journal of Wine Economics
- Rob Crassweller, Professor, Professor of Tree Fruit, The Pennsylvania State University
The project “Developing Wine Marketing Strategies for the Mid-Atlantic Region” (GRANT 11091317) is being funded by a USDA Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program grant, whose goal is “to assist in exploring new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products and to encourage research and innovation aimed at improving the efficiency and performance of the marketing system.” For more information about the program, visit http://www.ams.usda.gov.
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