Are wine farms under the influence(r)?

by | Jan 5, 2020 | Wineland, Lifestyle

Social media influencers have become the latest marketing trend, but have they replaced traditional marketing methods? And are they a viable tool for wine businesses?



Facebook has 21 million users in South Africa, while Instagram has proved itself to be a powerful social media force. This is according to the SA Social Media Landscape 2019 report released by brand intelligence organisation Ornico and independent technology research and strategy organisation World Wide Worx. The report also reveals that South African consumers have taken to social media like never before and big brands are following this trend.

The global influencer market on Instagram was set to increase to $2.38 billion (approximately R35 billion) last year, according to a report published by The State of Influencer Marketing. While the influencer marketing industry has stabilised in Europe, North America and Asia, it’s still an emerging practice for professionals in the rest of the world.

In fact, social media influencers have only really emerged in the wine industry over the past two years, says Claudia Young-Kelly, sales and marketing manager of Waterkloof in Somerset West. Local wine and lifestyle influencer and creator of the blog, Through My Wine Glass, Elvina Snell-Fortuin, says she wants to see more people like her experience the Winelands and all they have to offer. “I want people to realise you don’t need to know everything about wine to enjoy wine,” she says. Her blog is geared towards local wine consumers wanting to experience wine in various ways.

The Advertising Code of Practice defines an influencer as a person or group of people who brands pay to engage with social media in a certain way on a certain topic or in the promotion of a brand or publisher. Influencers are categorised into three groups: nano-influencers (up to 5 000 followers), micro-influencers (5 000 to 100 000 followers) and macro-influencers (100 000 up to millions of followers).

Shift in marketing

Traditional marketing methods have definitely moved towards more affordable methods such as social media, Claudia says. Nicolene Heyns Finlayson, tasting room manager at Gabriëlskloof Wines in Bot River, agrees there’s been a massive change in marketing and social media has had an influence on sales. “We’ve seen the importance of direct sales through our online shop linked to the improved and more frequent use of social media.” In some ways social media influencers have replaced the traditional ways of marketing, she says.

In the past wineries sent tasting samples only to people in the wine media industry. “We now sometimes include some influencers on our sample drop list,” she says, but as a rule they don’t use influencers to promote their wines or wine farm.

Elvina agrees there’s been a shift towards more affordable marketing methods but there’s room for so much more. She says the way consumers learn about or experience wine has changed drastically over the past few years.

Valuable for the wine industry

It’s important for brands and influencers to conduct thorough research and establish if the brand and influencer share the same values and speaks to the core of what the brand hopes to achieve, Elvina says. She says collaborating with someone who doesn’t share the same values can and sometimes does cause more harm than good, Elvina says. “But some PR companies and wine farms are very efficient in articulating their requirements or what they’re hoping to gain from the collaboration upfront which makes it easier to create audience-specific content.”

It’s important to address what you require from the influencer upfront, Elvina says. “I always tell people to think of influencer marketing as the billboard on the side of the highway. The billboard creates this visual image of what the consumer wants even if they never thought they needed it.” She says it’s important for businesses to establish what they need and effectively communicate this to the influencer …..

A full version of this article appears in the January/February 2020 issue of WineLand Magazine. Buy your copy here


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