The Australian Wine industry is experiencing a tough time as oversupply of product is creating downward pressure on prices. Large producers have had their well publicised problems, leading to merger and takeover activity. Small and medium producers are feeling the pinch.
Over the past twelve months I have discussed internet marketing with quite a number of smaller winery operators. The overwhelming experience seems to be “We have a web site but it doesn’t generate any sales.”
This experience mirrors that of other small business where the overwhelming majority fail to get significant benefit from their Internet presence. During the research I conducted as background to developing my own website I have visited several hundred wine related sites. It is not hard to see why they are not succeeding in generating sales.
Despite this gloomy record I feel that the Internet has lots to offer small to medium wineries in their marketing efforts. Some people are making sales through the internet: the challenge for the others is to get their sites going.
Small and medium wineries have several advantages that they can exploit to enhance their sales. Many are growing alternative varieties, and thus have a natural point of difference to build their marketing around.
Tourism is a booming industry and wine is an integral part of the tourist experience in most regions. An intelligent and integrated approach can exploit powerful marketing synergies.
For several reasons the Australian wine industry stands to reap great benefits from the internet, at least for those who are able to use it effectively.
My optimism is based on several emerging trends
There is obviously a much greater volume of wine being produced, both by the big wineries and the plethora of small and medium producers, new and old. The success the export trade has thus far kept problems of oversupply to a minimum, but the environment for marketing Australian wine is certainly becoming much more competitive.
There is increased diversity in the wine produced in Australia. New varieties have been introduced into emerging regions, the Rhone varieties into the Nagambie Lakes region and the Italian varieties into the King Valley, to name just the more prominent.
A growing number of consumers are looking for something new. There is a limit to how many marginally different chardonnays or shirazes they can drink and still remain interested.
Wine consumers are faced with more choice which is driving a thirst for knowledge about new wine experiences.
The Internet is primarily an information distributing medium, and consumers seek information about wine more than most other products
E-commerce is growing as more consumers are becoming comfortable with the internet. Warning! There is much more to e-commerce than having a website with attractive graphics. Too many businesses are overspending and underacheiving on the internet.
There is still a wide gap between those are producing something new and those who want to find something new.
Like any transforming technology the effects of the internet will take many years to unfold. There are hundreds of lessons still to be learnt. But with persistence, some Australian wineries will gain great benefits from marketing their wine on the web.