Building Your Wine Brand's Reputation During Covid-19

14/05/2020 How wineries can fight the Covid-19 and still be at win-win situation when the market opens and everyone is trying to normalise the economy.

The pre-blitz phrase ‘keep calm and carry on’ could have been written for the time that the world faces currently. Corona virus has taken us by surprise and institutional responses could perhaps have been more dynamic, but the war phrase’s spirit, motivation and determination is a critical attitude for businesses today as we go through this unsettling period.

In the context of the many difficult decisions that need to be made, then it might be easy for some to reduce the drinks industry to non-essential and without much assertion of priority.  Alcoholic drinks have been around for 8,000 years at least and used as a social lubricant for that length of time. Being social describes what it is to be human. So whilst, clearly not the highest priority in the world currently, beers, wines and spirits nonetheless have a significant place.

What you were planning to do tomorrow was alright yesterday, but not today.For example the signalling that over 70’s may be asked to self-isolate for up to 4 months creates a massive change of immediate horizons for millions of people.

The crisis is now and the pace of news and updates is furious. We all feel a need to be abreast of today’s news, but this profoundly game changing situation is very unlikely to be totally cataclysmic. The vast majority of us will get through this crisis and come out of the other side. It is therefore beholden on us to consider what happens post corona virus and picking ourselves and our businesses up from there?

Whilst as a business leader you might be wrapped up in the here and now,it will be down to you as a business leader to do what you can and put in place reasonable plans to keep afloat and defend your colleagues jobs beyond the crisis.

It makes sense therefore to afford some resource to thinking and preparing for what happens post corona virus. Sure as eggs are eggs, then you want your business to be sustainable beyond the virus circumstance. In that case you need to be dusting off your marketing plan and pulling it apart with granular detail analysing what needs to stay and what needs to go. There’ll be tough questions along the way, but critically what stays needs to be about which elements communicate to the audience as quickly as possible in ways that appreciate my business.

By all accounts the corona virus issue is limited to a few months. If we can believe the numbers and reports coming from China (it is perhaps a stretch of assumption), then we can see that the corona episode in China is now waning. Even if we don’t take the Chinese detail too seriously then we will be able to see perhaps a more realistic trajectory in Japan, Italy or Spain.

We can reasonably scope out that in 3-4 months time the virus will have passed and businesses and people need to trade again.

Marketing drinks is fundamentally about reputation. Thomas Jefferson kept Chateau Lafitte Rothschild in bottles with his personal monica on them in the late 18th century, and still price ranks as a top Bordeaux, Penfolds Grange still tops the market for Aussie reds and Sine Qua Non is known for its cult disruption. Oh yes reputation sells!

One of the key elements to build reputation is objective qualification of your drinks – spirit, beer or wine. The USA Ratings brings that objective qualification of through quality, value and packaging.

The USA Ratings through their expert judges, recruited from some of the most prestigious establishments across the USA capital and internationally, carefully assess each product in teams and score the drinks entrants on quality.

The price is then revealed and then the packaging for judges to score value and presentation. These are how the consumer judges and therefore lead to the most objective view of the entrants.

The scores are weighted towards quality with each mark in this category judged out of 50; whereas the value and packaging are scored out of 25. Once a product is judged they are then added up create the USA Ratings score. Gold winning products and special category products are then re-tasted by judges as a second check on scoring levels.

When the crisis has passed and, the vast majority of us will come through this crisis, then businesses will need to market and communicate hard in order to re—build markets and networks.

It is critical therefore that businesses assess what can be done now, to lay the ground for high quality communication in 3-4-5-6 months time. That is when the business community will need to reach out and re-generate its relationships with consumers.

What better to re-ignite that conversation than an award from the prestigious USA Wine, USA Beer and USA Spirits Ratings Competitions!

Keep calm and carry on!

Alistair Morrell – The Wine Inspector Advisor to The USA Ratings.