Digital Romanian Wine:Analyzing cellars’ websites
The wine producers’ market in Romania has grown considerably over the past ten years, as it is proven by the set-up of over 40 wine cellars during the last economic crisis. They have already reached a maturity of production that has allowed them to stand next to the existing giants, who still dominate the charts. The top 10 companies, led by Jidvei, Cotnari SA, and Recaş, still hold more than half of the market share.
What are the odds for the other medium-sized (over 80 wine cellars) and small (more than 400 wine cellars) players to make themselves known?
Romanian Wines in Online
We are currently witnessing a slow change of generations and tastes regarding wine consumption. Millennial consumers are more curious, educated, and especially keen on experiences. The revolution started by hipsters with craft beer can continue in the wine world. The target audience must, however, be seduced by the story of the wine.
Some of the medium-sized players have understood this trend and have developed adequate digital marketing strategies. After the website, the main channel used is Facebook, both organically and through paid posts which attract new fans. Romanian wine brands are shyer when it comes to YouTube and Instagram, visual platforms that have an immediate impact on the consumers’ subconscious. Some cellars chose to communicate with the audience periodically through a blog or a news section. Most of these initiatives are often unsustainable.Often, magazines and journals are better brand ambassadors.
Good online practices in the Romanian wine world
We will not rank the best social media sites or pages, but we will nominate some noteworthy initiatives. These, along with the recommendations in the later section, can be a minimum promotion guide in the online environment. The chosen wine cellars are either among the top five producers in 2017 or those that are part of the Premium Wines of Romania group.
Responsive Site: Oprişor Wine Cellar
Accessing pages on a mobile device already exceeded 50%. Consumers look for real-time information while shopping, at a bar or a restaurant, and wine producers have to offer them in a fast and straightforward format. The Oprişor wine cellar has a minimalist and stylish interface that transmits the brand’s values and is easy to navigate.
Bilingual site: Avincis
To make our wines known abroad, we have to tell the story. Also, make it in a way which entices listeners. A website tailored to the foreign target market makes people curious about visiting and tasting. A winery that hopes for international recognition has to start with your business card. Avincis understood this and not only translates the text from the main pages but also adapts the “News” section.
Site optimized for relevant keywords: Budureasca, Liliac, Cotnari Wine House and Jidvei
No wine cellar has a website optimized for basic keywords, such as “vinuri românești” (Romanian Wines), “cel mai bun vin românesc” (Best Romanian Wine) or their English variants. Yet, for more specific searches on native grape varieties, we find on the first page in Google the cellars mentioned above. The keywords used were “fetească/albă/neagră/regală”, “tămâioasă românească” and “busuioacă” which are the most common native grapes of Romania.
Blog: Cotnari Wine House and The Knights’ Club of S.E.R.V.E.
Telling the story of wine with passion, often enough, is not simple or easy. Most wine cellars choose only a section of news where they present the latest wine awards. Unfortunately, this does not make the consumer feel connected to the brand. People react to emotion and stories, not to prize lists. An attempt to create emotion belongs to the Cotnari Wine House. A community of wine lovers, with stories and where connections are established, which started online but has regular offline meetings belongs to S.E.R.V.E.
Friendly webshop: Alira
Although it is not mandatory, a web-shop can contribute to a complete consumer experience and can help build trust through loyalty offers. Several cellars have implemented a webshop on their sites. Most of these are not always useful, especialy when used on mobile phones. The search function and the existence of some categories help the client make a selection quickly and efficiently. Alira has understood and implemented these principles successfully. More filters would be appropriate, possibly by type of wine or by culinary associations.
Facebook page: Cotnari SA, Cotnari Wine House, Lilac and Recas Cellar
Social media is about communicating, having fun and creating connections. The recipe for success is not to sell but to incite, to educate. We also recommend showing aspects of the daily life of the wine cellar or important moments such as fairs. Contests and prizes are also welcome, as long as the enrollment conditions are not restrictive or require too much personal data. To be in consumers’ minds, it is recommended that the page is updated daily.
Although they have different strategies, the cellars listed have managed to attract an impressive number of fans, even if they also use paid advertising.
Cotnari SA relies on contests, the Cotnari Wine House often communicates the brand’s values through suggestive images, while Recaş chooses to show many “behind the scenes aspects” from the wine cellar. Lilac differentiate their strategy through bilingual communication and more live moments.
Instagram Profile: Cotnari Wine House
Instagram is the newest promotional tool in the Romanian wine industry, very mildly used until now by wine cellars. It requires defining a strong brand identity and creating relevant images. Using hashtags to help interested consumers to discover the content are also great. The only wine cellar that has managed to make a name for themselves on this channel, so far, is the Cotnari Wine House. Posts alternate between a focus on the product or great wine moments. The visual palette is stylish, in line with the premium positioning of the brand.
Digital Romanian Wine- Recommendations
Starting with the list of good practices, we make the following recommendations:
Create a mobile-friendly (responsive) site with a modern look. A good test is the number of steps the client needs to take to reach the information they are interested in. The site should be SEO friendly (containing descriptions that use keywords, picture descriptions, relevant internal and external links, etc.) We launch an informal competition for the first wine cellar to position organically on the front page of Google for the keyword “the best Romanian wine”.
Connect your site and social media channels. This link must be bidirectional to maximize brand exposure. We also encourage cellars to drop the social media buttons for which there are no accounts yet.
Create and update the blog frequently to bring the consumer closer to the company’s values.
Create groups of initiates or partisans to increase the attachment towards a particular wine. Members of these clubs must have specific benefits that make them feel superior to other consumers. Create a tribe for your wine.
Create a webshop or use an affiliate link. If the implementation of a great proprietary webshop is too costly, a simple and economic variant is partnering with a distributor through affiliation.
Connect online and offline. Events in the wine world benefit from increased visibility when they are promoted through social media.
Note: This was originally published in vinul.ro in Romanian.