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DTC sales growth as a response to COVID-19

With many restaurant sales channels having gone nearly dry following the advent of COVID-19, many wineries are looking to fill these lost sales via their DTC channel. Successfully growing this channel without direct consumer contact though has proven difficult for many wineries.

Very heavy DTC has some obvious advantages for a winery, and has been a “holy grail” business model for certain upscale wineries since the advent of the original Napa ultra-cult wineries in the early 1990s. Rather than earning a “freight-on-board” price that they’d get from a distributor, the winery is able to realize the entirety of the retail price while maintaining their production cost.


The question for many wineries is how to apply this additional margin to court growth in the DTC channel in 2021? At OMVino, we think the answer lies in digital product marketing, as well as digital events. Wineries will need to meet consumers where they are, which means on their screens and in their homes. Rather than relying on distributor partners to reach audiences, wineries need to undertake that work themselves.


Consumer-Facing Digital Content in 2021


Dynamic, engaging Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube presences are great ways to court younger audiences, as well as to tell your brand stories at a time when so many people are seeing the outside world through their phones and PCs.


With so many sommeliers out of work the availability of qualified, passionate ambassadors for winery products is at an all-time high. Using their communication skill sets to develop brand guidelines and documentation to create cohesive messaging that connects to consumers is at the heart of our work at OMVino. We work with sommeliers to drill down to the essence of what makes a brand appealing, drawing from these restaurant professional’s significant experience relating directly to consumers.


We also use the sommelier skill set to develop digital events and novel avenues to reach target audiences. We use our national network of affiliate sommeliers to target specific audiences for individual products. From SF to NYC, and everywhere in between, markets are clamoring for dynamic food and beverage content. People are looking for reasons to “gather” digitally, so why not give them reasons to do it centered around your brand’s product?


With restaurants closed in many places, foodies are looking for new ways to engage with their favorite hobby, and winery-produced, sommelier-led digital events is a tremendous way to build their social media presence and to drive more DTC sales, both now and following the pandemic.


Looking forward to a post-COVID world


Looking forward to a time when the world is back to “business as usual”, too deep a commitment to DTC won’t make sense for many wineries, as it can lead to a “too many eggs in one basket” scenario. However, in this unusual time, the benefits of committing resources to develop digital presence and logistics, as well as evergreen content to support DTC should be obvious to any dynamic winery.


DTC will remain an important sales channel for many wineries ’ long-term success, so why not focus today on how to be successful in the near-term future? If you’d like further reading on how this space is developing and its ups and downs, consider the following articles:


WineAnorak’s Jaime Goode on a history and analysis of the DTC space

Wine Marketing Thought Leader Paul Mabray on the DTC space

The SF Chronicle’s Esther Mobley on the logistical and consumer psychology challenges around DTC

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