The Covid-19 pandemic has forced South African wineries to find creative ways to engage with consumers. Augmented Reality (AR) has proven to be a useful tool for wineries while human interaction remains limited.
Technology has fast-tracked the wine industry’s digitisation strategies. Suddenly, it has become one of only a handful of ways to engage with consumers. This according to managing owner of Vollherbst Labels, Matthias Vollherbst.
The company established LABELinmotion in 2018 and launched it at the interactive in-house event at their home base in Endingen, Germany.
Matthias believes the sooner brands learn how to operate in the digital space, “the quicker we will learn to understand consumer behaviour, and the better a brand will perform in the future.”
LABELinmotion is a smartphone app that provides Augmented Reality (AR) solutions for labels, ranging from 3-D animations, music, interactive menus or narrated storylines.
“We wanted to offer brand owners and consumers an independent application through which they could run their AR-activated experiences on any label,” he says.
Zappar is a free AR app that unlocks interactive content hidden in small ‘zapcodes’ printed on a wine label. “Once the code is scanned, the information is easily accessible at any time,” explains CEO of Platypus Digital, Stanley Edwards. “This is also a simple and cost-effective way to share content hidden on your label or even a poster in a retail store to enhance engagement with your consumers.”
Consumers in Australia with the Winerytale app can now scan almost any Australian wine for an AR experience. According to PRNewswire, more than 2 500 Australian brands will stand to benefit once the technology is rolled out in June.
Winerytale’s managing director, Dave Chaffey believes AR will create a competitive advantage against overseas labels. “Augmented Reality is starting to ramp up, and people are excited about what’s on the horizon,” he says.
Stanley believes that competition for wines will not disappear – whether it is on shelves or online. “Everyone competes for the same customer so the more you engage, the better. Unless wineries don’t utilise the necessary tech tools at their disposal, businesses will get left behind.You have to go where the consumers are and it has to be mobile-centric.”
Matthias agrees that more wineries should make use of technology, but that it should be used authentically, and it must fit the brand. “In the future, the power of the story will be the most important part of a winery’s unique value.”
“We are entering a period when consumers will experience some economic hardship and may spend less on luxury items like wine. Consumers will be looking towards brands that offer additional value above the normal as a return on their investment.”
Making labels more intelligent
It is expected that online consumption will increase significantly as well as online marketing, direct communication and digital branding.
“The concept of AR is still very new, so wine producers are still largely unaware that this is a tangible option.”
Only a handful of South African brands like Survivor Wines and Groot Constantia are making use of the Zappar app. It’s about finding a tool that is simple to scale and cost-effective to use. “The aim is to make labels and bottles more intelligent.”
LABELinmotion offers consumers a new way to engage with a winery’s story at the point of sales as well as at the point of consumption. Matthias says they have received amazing responses from South African audiences on the two AR labels they have developed – Cathedral Cellar’s AR application, and the AR labels for MOSI wine and gin by Joseph Dhafana.
He believes Covid-19 accelerate the trend to live more healthy and sustainable, resulting in consumers searching for information like alcohol strength, carbohydrates, artificial flavours, sustainable production and packaging.
“Here AR can add a layer to wine labels to directly address this need in an interactive illustration of a wine producer’s green practices.”
“AR will become even more important after COVID-19,” says Matthias. LABELinmotion’s recent collaboration with MOSI Wines and Gin made headlines for added a unique and interactive tourism element to the label.
“During a time when travel is banned, these living labels highlights a natural wonder which will be in great need of tourists once all of this is over,” he says.
Physical distancing will remain a necessity for a while but AR allows you to bridge the gap by virtually bringing the winemaker (or destination) into your home via a wine label.
Stanley agrees by saying people are not connecting with wineries like they used to. “We cannot visit wine estates. There’s a need for a digital link to your brand, and wineries should foster good relationships with consumers.
“Technology is important during this pandemic and AR can be an effective digital tool to link tools you already have.”