Looking ahead – The Covid-19 paradoxes and the future of Fine Wine – Part 2

In most cases, regardless of one’s position in the Fine Wine Ecosystem, looking ahead will mean juggling opposing forces, navigating a shaken world with agility and resilience and adapting to changed needs, with less resources.

Based on a month of conversations with 70+ Fine Minds, we identified six crucial paradoxes brought by the current situation, and extrapolated their probable impact on the Fine Wine Ecosystem (FWE).

Here are the last three (See here for the first ones)

A booming digital world vs a human need for “analog” connections

In a change that can be seen as very quick for a traditional ecosystem, Fine Wine migrated online, from e-commerce platforms to Instagram live, virtual tastings and educational webinars, accelerating the digital transition which was off to a slow start pre-Covid 19.

“The online space is no longer just for “the internet guy”, now everyone in our company understand the importance of it and actively participate”. 

If this new online space was mostly identified as a huge opportunity for the Fine Wine world in terms of content creation and engagement, it also created some major frustrations amongst consumers, and a need to balance the increase of screen interaction with real life interaction.

 “We need to find a way to connect with our consumers with tangible, personalised gestures. I think I will send handwritten Christmas cards this year”.

“What we did first is call every single consumer in our database. Literally pick up the phone and call to check on them and see if they needed any help. We have thousands of them, so it took a couple of days but it was worth it. If we are not here for them now, then when?”

“We organised home delivery, but consumers can also come to collect their wines at the domaine. When they do, we make sure that there is always someone there, at the right distance of course, to start a conversation should they feel chatty”.

“High touch marketing might be sexier than the good old “telemarketing” but in both cases, the idea is the same. Creating direct and personal interactions with your consumers”.

An international reach vs a local market

This increase in online content within the current situation is creating an interesting paradox. On one hand, consumers and trade members all over the world get access to information and recommendations they never had access to before. But on the other hand, as wineries increase their global reach through a borderless internet, consumers – living in a world full of borders – see their frustrations rising.

 “As a MW candidate and a consumer, I am thrilled. There is information out there that is traditionally very difficult to get access to. But one of my big frustrations was being unable to access the wines that I was hearing about. So many great bottles, but no clear way for me to access them where I am”.

“Our main blockage is logistics. It is simply getting the product out there. We can be the most creative in the world, the most active on social media, at the moment we need to correct our logistical problem first. We won’t grow until we can deliver frictionless distribution to our global audience.”

As international tourism will probably be minimal for the rest of 2020, if not 2021, wineries also have to re-think their oenotourism propositions.

“We know that visitors will be local this summer. Historically, our local –French- visitors do spend less than international guests. So we are shifting towards a simplified offer, easier for our team to manage, but with a lot of diversified adds-on – ie we are working with local producers so that people can go home with a “full dinner to go with their wine” that will hopefully increase the average spend”.

The need to be together vs the fear of “the other”

Three months apart from our loved ones, borders are very much in place and international travel is still very limited. This has made us all craving for real life human contact.

“People will be drinking, eating and dancing again. If history repeats itself, then the coming decade could be the next Roaring Twenties”.

But on the other hand, trust and confidence will be hard to regain, and until there is a vaccine or a cure, a large portion of the population will be uncomfortable in social situations, regardless of social distancing.

“We are expecting people to be afraid to go out for a while, and to recreate social contact with only their very close ones. We have to be able to propose small, separated spaces when they come to visit but most of all, we have to meet them where they are: at home. We are expanding our range of 50ml bottles to fit intimate dinners for example”.

Our research, publications and events are only possible thanks to people like you. If you are in the capacity to do so, please consider supporting ARENI.