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Wine: growing social (Instagram above all), e-commerce and the tale of “sustainability”

“The digital taste of Italian wine” by Omnicom Pr Group Italy: Mezzacorona, Ruffino and Frescobaldi on the podium

Increased sustainability with 44% of wineries (11 out of 25, up from 7 out of 25 in 2021) already 100% energy self-sufficient or using energy from renewable sources, increase in proprietary e-commerce (+18%) and digital initiatives and 4.0 production innovation projects for 28% of companies (7 out of 25), including mechanized production management and telematics control of packaging. And again, Instagram the fastest growing channel with +20% of followers in aggregate over 2021, opportunities from LinkedIn, storytelling to communicate Esg and customer support via chat. This is the summary picture of the research “The Digital Taste of Italian Wine” (Issue No. 9) by Omnicom PR Group Italia, a strategic communication consulting firm active with more than 80 offices in 30 countries, which analyzed the online presence and activities of the top 25 Italian wine companies by revenue according to the Mediobanca 2022 survey.
At the absolute top is the Trentino-based cooperative winery Mezzacorona, with an overall score of 61 points, ahead of Ruffino, the historic Chianti winery (and now with vineyards and estates in the land of Prosecco as well) of the Constellation Brands group, with 60 points, and the historic Compagnia de’ Frescobaldi, the wine reference of Italy and Tuscany, with 55 points. A trio, on the podium, followed by other top Italian wine companies in terms of history, prestige, size, market positioning and more, with names ranging, in order, from Antinori to Santa Margherita, from Terre Cevico to Villa Sandi, from Zonin1821 to Cavit, from Mionetto to Cantine Riunite & Civ, from Mondodelvino to Tenute Piccini, from Caviro to La Marca Vini e Spumanti, from Fratelli Martini Secondo Luigi to Cantine Ermes, from Schenk Italian Winerys to Gruppo Lunelli, from Cantina di Soave to Collis Veneto, from Vivo Cantine to Italian Wine Brands, from Botter to Contri Spumanti.
Many focuses are present in the research. Starting with the one on the increasingly important social channels. In this context, Instagram continues to grow relative to all other social, with an increase in aggregate followers of 20% compared to 2021 (it was 90% in 2021 compared to 2020). Today, 18 out of 25 companies have an official account (up from 19 in 2021). Facebook, on the other hand, shows growth of less than 1% (it was 18% in 2021 compared to 2020) when it comes to fan base for the brands analyzed. YouTube is manned (with little intensity) by 16 companies (up from 13 in 2021) while Twitter by only 9 (figure unchanged from 2021). On Wikipedia, on the other hand, which is also very useful from a Serp (Search Engine Results Page) perspective, only 7 wineries. TikTok records only 4 out of 25 companies (compared to 3 out of 25 in 2021) while LinkedIn is manned today by 13 out of 25 wineries and used mainly for communications related to news, presence at events and fairs, launch of Esg projects, awards or certifications. Also continuing post-pandemic, however, is the growth of e-commerce: after the significant increase in the number of proprietary ecommerce stores in 2021 (+83% compared to 2020), 2022 shows an 18% increase in the number of the latter (from 11 to 13 out of 25). However, however, Omnicom Pr points out, “the user experience of the latter is not particularly evolved, being limited to the presentation of products and the management of the purchasing process. However, there is a clear desire on the part of the leading companies in the sector to want to directly accompany consumers at all the different stages of the brand-person relationship”.
Looking at the content, however, there is evidence of change from the pandemic situation; great relevance is still found in the theme of native grape varieties, but everything related to sustainability and ethics, summarized in the acronym Esg (environmental, social, and corporate governance), is gaining ground. Notably, Omnicom Pr explains, the “post-pandemic” recovery is no longer contingent on limiting physical experiences: in fact, in 2022, 14 out of 25 wineries (compared to 9 out of 25 in 2021) have sections dedicated to tasting tours (in 2020 and 2019 it was 52%). Wineries propose and offer different types of experiences such as on-site tasting routes, thematic picnics, workshops, and special events. The most virtuous take advantage of their own hospitality facilities to offer a complete experience (of which 4 use owned restaurants, 2 of the overnight facilities, and 1 a museum) or have developed digital tours. The trend of “food pairing” (wine-food pairings) sees 17 out of 25 wineries in the spotlight (+183%, up from 6 out of 25 in 2021) remains very interesting and to be capitalized on.
All companies mention, in various ways, native grape varieties (as they did in 2021 and 2020): 14 wineries on their sites have dedicated content. However, the level of depth changes: some wineries do not just mention them, but devote space to describing the grape varieties and the choice of use while others devote special attention to the topic with an entire section of their site (and a narrative of the use and recovery program). On the previous analysis, the implementation of sustainability initiatives linked to the territory (Environmental) remains intense, where 22 out of 25 wineries (compared to 20 in 2021) mention projects for the protection of vines and their biodiversity, control of fertilizers (with particular attention to those of natural origin) and pesticides used, guidance on how to properly recycle the packaging that is used (bottles, caps, plastics, packaging), use of renewable resources for both energy production and irrigation, collaboration with local, national and international institutions on certifications or projects.
Also in great turmoil are initiatives related to social impact (Social), which, although still underdeveloped, are mentioned by 18 out of 25 wineries (figure unchanged from 2021). In particular, family passions and traditions, ties with the territory and local culture, projects supporting cultural entities such as museums or the FAI, the activation of educational wineries, initiatives for schools or scholarships, and the support of associations related to social inclusion are told. A great deal of untapped potential is represented by initiatives related to good corporate governance (Governance) practices, where 17 out of 25 wineries (compared to 15 in 2021) have communicated organizational models aimed primarily at ensuring innovation, territorial spirit, ethicality in supplier relations and selection, and in the treatment of employees with a focus on long-term compensation and contractual policies. In contrast, there are no particular references to issues of inclusiveness and respect for diversity, mediation of the management model or balancing of powers. Again, looking at “language”, it emerges that in addition to Italian, English, German, and Chinese are the languages most present on the websites of the companies analyzed. In 2022, there is English (25 out of 25 wineries, as already in 2021 and 2020) followed by German (9 out of 25, as already in 2021), Chinese (4 out of 25, as already in 2021). Thus, the most important markets for our exports are well manned. On social channels, 14 out of 25 companies offer content in foreign languages (compared to 15 in 2021).
For chats-all on Messenger-nine out of 25 wineries responded within 24 hours to inquiries compared to 10 out of 25 in 2021 and 15 out of 25 in 2020. Growing in the digital narrative made by the wineries, however, is above all the theme of environmental sustainability and the so-called “ecological transition”, supported on several fronts (logistics, photovoltaics, fleet of machinery and supply chain contracts) with various measures, starting with the NRPR (National Recovery and Resilience Plan). “In this context”, the survey goes on to explain, “already 44% of the wineries analyzed (11 out of 25, compared to 7 out of 25 in 2021) are 100% energy self-sufficient or use energy from renewable sources; 28% of the wineries surveyed have initiated projects to digitize wine production/distribution/packaging processes (such as “wine 4.0” such as mechanized production management and telematic control of packaging”. Also with a view to safeguarding the ecosystem, 6 out of 25 wineries in 2022 have active plants for water recovery or circular use of water, and 2 wineries have active plants for alternative energy production such as biogas or biodiesel.
“The Italian wine sector is proving, with facts, to be virtuous and in the vanguard in several respects. To the themes of education on product, territory and supply chain, over the years the sector has been able to flank “know-how” in the areas of digitization, sustainability and social responsibility. Specifically, 2022”, says Massimo Moriconi, general manager and ad Omnicom Pr Group Italia, “has been marked by the consolidation of the social platforms used in favor of a return to the physicality of communication and the implementation of “wine 4.0” or Pnrr-related projects. The hope is that the leading companies in the sector can continue to foster and inspire the evolution of the entire sector, where the “digital divide” between large and medium-sized producers and takes on important dimensions in some cases”.

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