Can SMS Marketing a 90’s technology help vineyards to grow?

The wine industry has always relied on the old school distribution and reseller model where each geography region or country has a distributor that takes wines from the vineyards in bulk and sell them to retailers in the region. Due to this model, the prices of wines are significantly higher for consumer and majority of the profit do not go to the vineyards that bear the most risk in the business. Some wine-makers have cleverly depend on technology to sell directly to consumers by using the subscription model that has been popularized in recent year by Birchbox. While others uses a slightly more traditional marketing method such as SMS marketing to inform customers when the new wine has come of age. These methods help to cut-off the middlemen in the business thereby increasing the profit.

Since my last update, I’ve been doing a lot of research around vineyard as a new type of property investment. Through these research, I learnt that wine-making is a very risky business. Your income for years to come is highly dependent on the year’s yield and quality. Technique for wine-making is secondary compared to mother nature. But, I’ve stumbled upon a few new technology that helps vineyards to control the quality of wine and in small ways make micro-changes to the growing environment of grapes. There are technology that helps improve almost every step of the wine-making process from growing the grapes to ultimately in marketing the wines.

Refractometer to determine ripeness of grapes

Wine-maker using refractometer to determine the sugar level of grapes

Why SMS marketing but not other form of marketing, you may ask? Well, most people that drinks wine are above a certain age like myself. And with age, the familiarity with new age technology such as mobile apps or emails decreases. SMS is an old enough technology for majority of the wine lovers to be familiar with. Hence, it is a good medium for the target market.

One way is to utilize this technology is pre-order of wine samples or wines. As you know, every vintage of wines may differ and you may not like a particular year’s vintage. So wine-makers can have a wide coverage of information push to the customers by sending a more traditional marketing method that is SMS to their customers. With a direct contact with the customers, the wine-makers can rely less on the mercy of distributors to promote their wine. Wine-makers can inform customers of the grapes quality and when to expect the wines to be ready. Majority of wine lovers are not comfortable in purchasing wines online (less familiar platform) so enabling purchase using a more familiar platform to the customers may work. Once the customers placed the order via SMS, the wine-makers can have the customers mail cheques to the wine-makers directly. And the wine-makers can start having wine orders before the wine is ready. Once the wine is ready, the wine makers can then ship to wines directly to the customers. Of course, there is a need to ensure that the minimum orders will make business sense to the wine-makers. But, this is a great way to use a platform that is familiar to the wine customers, do away with the middlemen and increase the profit of the wine-makers.

Technology is great to ensure the quality of the wine produced in vineyards. But I think there is room for creativity in how to market wines to consumers. Frankly, the old distribution model is out of date. However, a lot of vineyards are using technology such as Facebook to engage their customers when their customers may not be on or are not familiar with the platform at all. I think there is a middle ground technology that can be explored and that answer may just be SMS.


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