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Italian wine companies split on fairs and events in the second half of 2021

WineNews survey: for the future, wineries aim at more digital and less physical events. With a focus on international and trade events
Wine events and the future: less in presence, more on digital

Perfectly divided on the sense and usefulness or otherwise of a concentration of physical events in the second half of 2021 (when, pandemic permitting, they hope for a better scenario, especially from the point of view of health and the possibility of travel), Italian wine businesses are certain that digital technology (including webinars, online tastings and “virtual fairs”), which exploded in the months of the lockdown, will remain important even after the health emergency, supporting events or replacing some of them. And there are more realities that, when the world will have returned to its normality, or will enter the “new normality”, think of participating in fewer events than before, looking mainly at large international fairs. They prefer events dedicated to the trade, considered by far the most important, a sign that in an articulated production chain such as that of wine, where direct sales are growing, the role of intermediaries between producer and final consumer (whether restaurateurs, wine merchants, distributors or importers) remains fundamental for the future of the sector. This emerges from a survey by WineNews, which investigated the sentiments and visions of a panel of leading companies from all over Italy (which, together, represent over 1.5 billion euros in turnover) very different from each other, small and large, private and cooperative, family-owned and financial groups, led by advanced managerial structures and by “family-run businesses”, representative of the variegated structure of the entrepreneurial fabric of Italian wine, all grappling, like everyone else, with an unprecedented historical and international framework, which changes from day to day, and where uncertainty reigns supreme.
On the movement of all physical events, major trade fairs in the lead, in the second half of the year instead of the first months as usually happens, and to date (except for a postponement tout court to 2022, as chosen by Prowein, for example) the only possible scenario assuming and hoping for a much better situation from the health point of view, between vaccines and summer, and consequently also a greater simplicity on the front of international travel, opinions are perfectly divided in half, between those who say that anyway being able to make events would be positive, both for the need to return to events in presence and to give a signal of restart, and those who see it as negative, both because the influx of international visitors will be limited, and because events in the second half of the year are not very useful for international business.
We are talking, however, about a hypothetical scenario, because even though Vinexpo Wine Paris 2021, which was originally scheduled in February, is scheduled from June 14 to 16 (a final decision will be taken at the end of March, ed.), while a few days later, as of now, is confirmed Vinitaly, in Verona, the main event of Italian wine, postponed from April to June 20-23, everything is constantly evolving.
What everyone is certain of is that digital technology will continue to be a fundamental tool, and if for most it will mainly support physical events, for most companies webinars, virtual tastings and so on, will also replace part of traditional events, especially when they are intended for communication, but also some business to business events and, to a lesser extent, business to consumer events. On the other hand, from the answers of the companies it emerges loud and clear how the events dedicated to trading are by far the most important, more than those dedicated only to the press or to the public of enthusiasts.
In any case, for 2021, the vast majority of companies have decreased the budget allocated to events (which, in most cases, accounts for between 3% and 5% of company costs), whether in presence or digital: very few have budgeted similar sums for 2020 (underlining the hope of being able to spend them), although there are cases in which the ceiling has even been increased.
The future scenario? If a minority of companies plan to return to participating in the same events as before the pandemic, once it has passed, and a minority will also try to participate in more initiatives, the vast majority foresee a future with their participation in fewer events. And while most will favor large, international fairs, some will focus more on smaller events in their own territories.
Ideas, projects and reflections about an uncertain future which, however, most probably, even for the world of wine, will be different, to a greater or lesser extent, from what we have seen until now.

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