How wine marketers can win as consumers’ new online habits likely won’t go away with the pandemic
As businesses begin to reopen in the North Bay, there’s a sense that we may be able to look at returning to “normal.” Even though the idea of ‘normal” may be a comfort to some, it is unlikely to happen — at least in the way we think.
Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble: We aren’t going back to the same world we had pre-pandemic. We are heading for a new normal because consumer behavior has changed over the past year.
From buying groceries online to working from home on video conference calls while the kids are in the next room learning, people are spending their money differently, more intentionally, and more mindful.
The pandemic has changed consumers’ behaviors. But one thing to note: we are not heading in a different direction from where we were already destined to go. Consumers and businesses have simply been forced to accelerate existing business trends based on the need to stay home and stay safe.
Take any digital marketing or consumer trend, and fast-forward 10 years:
E-commerce was already advancing at around 1% per year and was at 18% share of all retail in March 2020; within eight weeks of the pandemic beginning, this figure jumped to 28% (eMarketer).
Wineries and traditional food producers that used to largely supply restaurants, hotels, and retailers had to look at direct-to-consumer (DTC) methods of selling their consumer goods.
In the early days of the pandemic, Wise Acre Farm in Windsor created a new website to sell directly to consumers who wanted to purchase eggs.
Ensuring your business’s website makes it as easy as possible to purchase online and get up-to-date information about retail hours and expectations will be important as we reopen.
But at the end of the day, many people who had never purchased online pre-COVID have now realized the ease of online ordering, and this trend will continue to grow.
And even for those who don’t want to make their final purchases online, they are still using websites, social media, and articles on Google to find relevant information about products.
Jennifer Reichardt, owner of Liberty Ducks and Raft Wines in Petaluma, has spent this past year pivoting her duck business to educate consumers about eating duck at home.
“We have loved getting to know our consumers on a more personal level. We're also really enjoying the educational part of teaching people that duck isn't just for special occasions or when you're eating out at a restaurant. It is possible and fun to cook at home too.”
Delivery and curbside pickup
In addition to buying online, the emergence of grocery, restaurant and winery curbside pickup has become the norm for many consumers looking to stay safe. Research from Aki Technologies and TapResearch found that 68% of new grocery e-commerce shoppers said they would continue to shop online in the future.
In addition to expanding on delivery services, retailers have also begun to incorporate digital technologies to make in-store shopping more streamlined (and safe). Digital signage, Apple Pay and other contactless payments, QR codes to order food, and WiFi are just some of the ways businesses can make the in-person shopping experience more convenient for their customers.
If you run a hotel business or property in the North Bay, you may have found that one of the biggest changes to your customers is where they’re visiting from. With the CDC still not recommending travel within the United States, consumers are looking closer to home to stay safe while simultaneously feeling like they are “getting away” from their everyday lives.
TripAdvisor conducted a consumer opinion survey for an analysis of travel behavioral trends over the course of 2020. They noted the growth of traveling close to home: “Nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents said they expected to travel domestically within the next six months, and one in six (16%) were planning to travel domestically in the next four weeks.”
When it comes to connecting with your target audience, businesses should be looking at who is coming to visit them right now -- and pivot some marketing efforts (like social media ads) to that group in the short term.
Even before the pandemic, the push for wineries to create more experiences was already trending. Visitors were spending more time at each winery they visited and less time jumping from tasting room to tasting room. Appointments and experiences—like food and wine tastings and vineyard tours — moved online, and once Wine Country opens back up, experiences will be even more important as fewer guests are allowed in the tasting room at the same time.