But that was certainly not the only wisdom to be gleaned. A special webinar on the Great Big Wine Survey, which took place on 20 May, revealed further fascinating insights about how the wine industry can weather the current COVID-19 pandemic – and thrive well into the future.
Facilitator Andrew Douglas, Managing Director of Southern Skies Investment Holdings, began the webinar by providing context to the survey. The TOPS at Spar Wine Show, riding high in 2019 with a 26% increase in average footfall traffic and 42% growth in exhibitors from 2018, went “from hero to zero virtually overnight” in 2020 because of the pandemic.
Instead, TOPS at Spar channelled its energies into the 120-question Great Big Wine Survey, developed in conjunction with Vinpro, Wines of South Africa, SA Wine Industry Information and Systems, and North West University’s Tourism Research in Economics, Environs and Society (TREES).
“Overwhelmed” by the survey respondents, as well as 817 907 Facebook Ads impressions and 27 520 impressions on the survey website, the assistance of market research company KLA and wine industry consultancy Wine Business Solutions (WBS) was sought. And Hollard Insure came on board as the survey’s sponsor.
KLA Head of Research Caitlin Bauristhene told the webinar that the survey revealed three strong insights:
Wine is not for special people: two thirds of respondents said wine is “for everyone”; a third said wine is “for foodies”; and importantly, fewer than 10% believed that wine is for a specific group of people
When buying wine, 19% said they go to the store with an open mind; 48% said they occasionally know what they want, but not always; and 32% said they do their research and know what to buy. These figures show the desirability of innovative packaging, eye-catching labels, wide selection, price and relatable educational content on labels – and also the necessity of brand building and consumer engagement to grow loyalty and preference
Purchasing behaviour changes, depending on the consumer’s engagement with wine (including attending tastings, following online wine content, attending social wine groups or formal clubs, and completing wine courses). The more a consumer engages, the higher their propensity to spend more on wine
Importantly, while higher-income consumers spend significantly more on online shopping than lower-income consumers, this trend does not extend to wine buying. The “biggest insight”, said Bauristhene, is that online brand engagement is vital to growing consumers – who, interestingly, will also pay more for wine when buying online.
“For the wine industry, this is a great opportunity,” said Bauristhene.
Hollard Insure National Business Development Manager (and Head of Agri) Andries Wiese comments that sponsoring the Great Big Wine Survey underlines Hollard’s business purpose, called #BetterFutures.
“Sponsoring the survey is our way of giving back to the Western Cape and its iconic wine industry, which has been heavily affected by the national Covid-19 lockdown. Helping the industry recover will go some way towards preserving the jobs of the 45 610 people who work in the primary production side of the wine industry. That’s a lot of #BetterFutures!” he says.