Innovation among Italian wine companies accelerated by the pandemic

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Wine Clubs founded on the economy of relationships and the concept of sharing wine passions and delivering specific products to members, proprietary e-commerce platforms, enhanced delivery services and multi-channel sales. And a great deal of shared wine experiences, strictly online and segmented by target groups. The Italian world of wine looks beyond the black year of 2020 to give its business a facelift. This emerges from "The wine business in the post Covid-19 era" survey presented today at Veronafiere by the Vinitaly Observatory-Nomisma Wine Monitor during the international Summit inaugurating the wine2wine Digital online event.

The survey involved a panel of 165 companies (representing 4 billion euros in cumulative turnover, of which 2.5 billions from exports, about 40% of the total for Italy) and consequently depicts a sector that experienced 2020 as a watershed year during which decades of certainties were swept away in just a few months. Innovation is the keyword, not so much as regards involvement on social media networks already implemented by almost all companies, but as a need to activate increasingly cross-media tools, intensify direct relationships, provide more services to users and to profile consumer audiences to boost loyalty over time. 

By way of example, wine clubs in 2019 were a niche tool (11% of the panel), while the share leaped to 57% in just few months. The same can be said for remote tastings (professional and amateur alike), which expanded from 16% to 84%. There was also a virtual plebiscite for direct sales through launching e-commerce channels: from 55% to 87%. Yet the turning point, albeit most evident among large companies, does not end here. The new concepts set in motion to combat the economic crisis take the form of multichannel sales (74.1%), broader diversification of exports (74.1%), brand awareness and greater sharing with importers and distributors, as well as accelerating engagement strategies on social media networks.

The CEO of Veronafiere, Giovanni Mantovani, said: “It was important to obtain a snapshot of the state of the art through the direct testimony of companies. While on the one hand, the result confirms the market difficulties already encountered by the Vinitaly Observatory, on the other hand it also demonstrates the great vitality of wine companies in their immediate response to an epoch-making transition in the way they do business in commercial, marketing and communication terms. These evolutionary scenarios will be analysed in depth during wine2wine through more than 70 specific events."

And even as regards the main post-Covid strategies, wine-makers already speak a new language for a sector that until now evolved more in the vineyard and the glass than in offices. First and foremost, the right mix of presence (at international trade fairs), further strengthening of online channels and wine tourism, entry into retail chain channels and the inevitable online master classes. The general agreement is that things will change considerably over the next 2-3 years (only 1% says that everything will be the same as before), while the most widespread opinions foresee reductions, in Italy and abroad, in the number of out of home premises and consumption, offset by the positive impact of increased online sales and growing demand for native, 7 organic and sustainable wines. 

The support measures requested from institutions in order to restart the sector include, in first place, the possibility of using CMO promotion funds no longer only in non-EU countries but even on European markets (65%). This request aims to support proximity markets, which are suffering more than others. This is followed by institutional campaigns, incentives for digitization and the relaunch of trade fairs.

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