Tasting at Morgenhof
Are we poised for progressing beyond the bottle or stuck on a ‘tasting room’ tangent?
In a wine market increasingly reminiscent of the proverbial bun fight, with cut-throat competition and ruthless discounting (that is, if you’re lucky enough to be on the shelf at all), there is much talk in the global wine industry about direct sales and its potential as an alternative and far more lucrative revenue stream.
Within the direct sales business unit is located the traditional cellar door outlet, one which is increasingly studied and presented as not only offering plumper margins but, very tangibly, a unique brand building platform – that somewhat elusive opportunity marketers call ‘engaging the consumer’ and you and I might dub, good old ‘face time’.
The Winelands Experience Survey, operated by WineStats – a division of Wine.co.za, was conducted at 41 local cellar door outlets between May 2006 and January 2007. A total of 2757 responses were collated, of which some very insightful observations about South African tasting rooms and its clientele have been inferred.
* Purchasing behaviour, for instance, varied across the different demographics. Males were marginally more likely to purchase wine than females and spent on average nearly R100 more per purchase.
* Interestingly, South Africans tourists or winelands locals are more likely to purchase and are spending significantly more than German, British and American visitors. Getting their purchases home was indicated as a major issue for foreign visitors, especially among German tourists.
* Speaking of engaging the consumer, survey respondents who were return visitors were more than 10% more likely to purchase wine than first time visitors. Return visitors are also spending R94 more per purchase than first time visitors. They are also more likely to refer wine brands to their peers.
* The 46-55 year old segment was the most likely to purchase wine and spends on average the most per age category. The 18-25 year old segment is the least likely to purchase wine and spends the least per purchase.
According to Allister Kreft of WineStats, their inferences hold important implications for tasting room operators, especially in terms of:
* service as it relates to gender and age,
* the courier of purchased wines overseas,
* loyalty programmes, and
* the importance of local wine tourism. Very exciting findings on ‘culinary travel’ and how it relates to wine tourism were coincidentally released in the US earlier this month. With implications for regional branding, the announcement of the survey results said that wine and culinary experiences are indeed drivers of destination choice. ‘Culinary travelers’ were defined as ‘younger, more affluent and better educated than non-culinary travellers’ and as ‘clearly motivated by unique experiences’.
Earlier this year, Vinimark’s front man Tim Rands, offered ten predictions for the year ahead to wine producers gathered at a VinPro event. Rands predicted a dawning realisation this year among wine producers that there is money to be made in wine tourism. Linking wine tourism with the phenomenon of the Experience Economy, Rands said ‘Wine tourism currently contributes R5.5 billion to the provincial economy. It should be twice as much.’
And just this week, CEO of Cape Town Routes Unlimited Sheryl Ozinsky, addressed the wine industry citing wine tourism as offering local producers exciting opportunities. Ms Ozinsky made reference to the 2010 Soccer World Cup – ‘the planet’s biggest marketing event and our best shot ever at securing the Western Cape as the world’s destination of choice.’ She also called for the wine industry’s taking cognisance of the ‘enormous opportunity’ presented by the emerging domestic market in a wine tourism context.
Wine tourism, it seems, is on everybody’s agenda.
Lastly, delegates at the Great Wine Capitals Network’s AGM late last year were privy to wine writer Jane Anson’s suggestion that ‘the first wave of international wine tourism have come and gone’. Anson deliberately distinguished between ‘wine tourists’ and ‘winery visitors’, suggesting ‘going beyond the bottle’ and citing the Starbucks phenomenon - which was ‘not so much about coffee as it was about community and friendship’ – as an indication that wine tourism has to connect with a new breed of consumer, and perhaps in a new kind of way.
Is talk of a Next Wave premature? Or indeed belated? Have we progressed past terminology and concepts such as ‘cellar door sales’ and ‘tasting rooms’? Are we benchmarking enough against international operators?
In an effort to unpack these and other salient questions, Wine.co.za is thrilled to announce the first Rootstock gathering of the year, on Wednesday 28 March, at 6pm at the Devon Valley Hotel, which will be dedicated in its entirety to a heavy-weight panel discussion entitled, ‘Wine Tourism, The Next Wave. Are we poised for progressing beyond the bottle or stuck on a ‘tasting room’ tangent?’
For more information on this event – please visit www.rootstock.co.za. Numbers are limited, therefore bookings are essential.
The full Winelands Experience Survey Report is available from WineStats. Current WineStats clients receive a 50% discount on the purchase price of the report. Please contact Allister Kreft at email@example.com or 021 855 0509 .