Allegrini 2018

Sustainability, e-commerce, social media: the relationship between the big Italian wine companies and digitalization

Mezzacorona, Frescobaldi and Ruffino are the first three on "The digital taste of Italian wine 2021" ranking. Instagram did well, e-shops not so well

The eighth edition of "The digital taste of Italian wine 2021" survey was conducted by OMNICOM PR GROUP ITALIA, on the online presence of the leading 25 Italian wineries for turnover, according to the bank, Mediobanca Survey 2021. The results include: greater sustainability, as 28% of the wineries (7 out of 25) are 100% self-sufficient in terms of energy, or they use energy from renewable sources; proprietary e-commerce boom (+ 83%) and digital initiatives 4.0 for 44% of the companies (11 out of 25), including activating block chain or marketing through voice assistants.

Additionally, Instagram is the channel that is growing the most, and has + 90% of followers in aggregate compared to 2020, possible opportunities from podcast, ESG communication and customer support via chat. The companies leading the rankings, according to the 15 inputs the survey analyzed (social channels, followers, e-commerce presence, upgrade frequency, social language, site language, chats, look & feel, territory, native vines, food pairing, environmental commitment, commitment to society, good governance and digitalization), are number 1, Mezzacorona, at 65 points, followed by number 2, Frescobaldi (60), and number 3, Ruffino (56), then Antinori (54), Mondodelvino (48), Santa Margherita (46), Mionetto (45), Villa Sandi (44), Cevico and Cavit (both at 43).

Regarding social channels, Instagram is continuing to grow the most compared to the others, and has registered + 90% increase in the aggregate of Followers compared to 2020 (51% in 2020 compared to 2019). Today, 19 out of 25 companies have an official account (there were 16 in 2020). Facebook instead, registered 18% growth (it was 1.2% in 2020) of its fan base for analyzed trademarks. Thirteen companies mentioned (not fervently) YouTube (compared to 11 in 2020), while only 9 companies Twitter. Wikipedia, instead, which is very useful even in SERP Optics (Search Engine Results Page), is mentioned by only 7 wineries, while TikTok is still relatively unmentioned (only 3 companies out of 25).

In 2020, e-commerce activity was absolutely stable, while instead, in 2021 it has registered 83% increase in e-commerce owners (going from 6 to 11 out of 25). The user experience of the latter is not particularly advanced, and is limited to presenting the Products and managing the purchase process. However, it is evident that the main companies of the Sub-fund are willing to directly accompany consumers in all the different phases of the brand-person relationship.

Considering the online communication contents of the big Italian wineries, the topic linked to the Covid-19 emergency now seems far away, since only one winery has communicated related initiatives on its own site, while in 2020 there were 14 out of 25 companies. However, the limitation of physical experiences is still conditioning the "post - Pandemic" recovery, as 9 wineries out of 25 have sections dedicated to tasting paths (while in 2020 and 2019, it was 52% of wineries). The most virtuous use their own hospitality facilities to offer a complete experience (of which 4 use property restaurants, 2 accommodation facilities, and 1 a museum) or they have developed digital paths.

There are 11 companies out of 25 following the trend of "food pairing" (the same as in 2020), which is interesting and needs to be monitored to confirm future optic as well as digital development. All of the companies mentioned, on various levels, native vines (just like in 2020 and 2019). However, the in-depth level has changed. Some of the wineries do not just cite them, but they dedicate space to the description of the vines and the choice of use, while others pay particular attention to the subject on an entire section of their site (plus adding a story on the use and recovery of the program). As per the previous analysis, there is a strong tendency to generate sustainability initiatives linked to the territory (Environmental), where 20 wineries in 25 mention projects created to protect vines and their biodiversity, fertilizer control (particular attention paid to natural origin), use of Renewable resources (both for energy production and irrigation), and collaboration with local authorities as well as National and International institutions on certifications or projects.

Moreover, there is a lot of excitement about initiatives related to the impact of social media, which, even though it is still not well developed, 18 wineries out of 25 mentioned it. They particularly illustrated support projects to cultural institutions, such as museums or the FAI, promoting the territory through cultural information, activating educational wineries, projects for schools or scholarships, supporting associations connected to the social inclusion. There is great, though not yet developed, potential for initiatives related to good governance (Governance) of business practices where 15 wineries out of 25 have communicated organizational models aimed primarily to guaranteeing ethics in the relationship and selection of suppliers and in the treatment of employees, and particular attention to long-term compensation and contractual policies. There are no particular references to issues of inclusiveness and respect for diversity, management mediation models or balancing of powers.

Besides Italian, the languages most used on the sites of the surveyed companies are English and Chinese. In 2021, English is first (25 wineries out of 25, the same as in 2020), followed by German (9 out of 25, as in 2020), Chinese (3 out of 25, 4 out of 25 in 2020). The most important markets for our exports are therefore well covered. On social channels, 15 companies out of 25 propose content in a foreign language (14 in 2020). As for chats - almost all of them on Messenger - 10 companies out of 25 responded within 24 hours to requests for information against 15 out of 25 in 2020.

Trends linked to fighting climate change, and the strategic direction the Recovery and Resilience Plan has taken, are prompting wineries to accelerate investments on the green and technological evolution of their business model. As a matter of fact, digital interventions are dedicated to the entire production and distribution chain, combined with renewable energy sources investments aimed at achieving energy self-sufficiency. Forty percent of the wineries surveyed has started digitalization projects in wine production / distribution / packaging processes (such as "wine 4.0") or sales / marketing (such as creating applications dedicated to the Amazon’s Smart Speaker, Alexa). This extension has intensified the digital divide between various wineries.

“Italian wine is accelerating its ecological and digitalization transition, becoming a concrete example for other excellent Made in Italy products. Furthermore, the fact that many of the projects have been designed and completed before the RRP, testifies to the soundness of the vision of companies’ management, and the potential for further virtuous development for the Sub-Fund”, commented Massimo Moriconi, General Manager and CEO of OMNICOM PR GROUP ITALIA, strategic consulting company in active communication, counting over 80 offices in 30 countries. “In this context, ESG communication becomes extremely useful to highlight activities of the wineries whose view is attracting new investors or creating valuable trade synergies”, concluded Moriconi.

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