8 Tips to Increase Online Wine Sales – Lessons from Google

This month even wine business students who had already graduated from Bus 305W showed up to hear a presentation from Google on increasing online wine sales.  Fifty Millennials listened aptly to two guest speakers from Google, and many incorporated the tips into their final wine business papers for the semester. 

“Online wine search queries have increased more than 33% in the past 2 years,” announced Google manager, Joe Rosenberg. “In addition, wine searches via mobile phone increased ten times in the same time period.”  Google colleague, Danny Navarro added, “We see that consumers are increasingly interested in wine online, but the wine industry doesn’t seem to be adopting digital opportunities as fast as other industries.”

 They described how when wine tasting in Napa several weekends ago they tried to use their mobile phones to find nearby wineries, but nothing came up. “There are many new apps and online methods to drive traffic to a business,” said Joe, “and this appears to be a big opportunity for wine.”  Then they shared some eye-opening statistics: 

Online and Wine Statistics 

  • In 2009 there were 1.6billion people online – up from 500 million in 2004
  • Ecommerce sales were $500 billion in 2009
  • There were 90 million online wine related queries last year
  • Wine searchers outspend non-searchers by 272%
  • There are 6150 videos about wine-tasting on YouTube
  • 24% of Millenials report that wine is their preferred alcoholic beverage (Harris Poll, 2011)
  • Online search and social media are converging at faster rates than ever before* 

Tip to Increase Online Wine Sales

So what are the methods they recommend to increase online wine sales?  Joe and Danny suggested 7 tips to increase online wine sales, and the 8th tip is from Nyk King, E-commerce Wine Sales Rep at Chateau Montelena, who is a graduate of SSU Wine Biz program and also presented on how to increase online wine sales this semester:

1)    Strong Online Presence – make sure to develop a professional website with an online shopping cart.   Use clear and unique tags so consumers can find your URL when searching.

2)    Set Up Product Search – identify someone on your marketing staff to place every SKU on Google Product Search (a free service).  This includes taking a photo of your wine bottle/label, using unique product identifiers, such as SKU, and updating often according to inventory depletions.

3)    Invest in Google Ads – provide a monthly budget for online advertising and appoint a marketing rep to monitor ads.  This allows your wines to be placed in the top or side bars of search pages, but you only pay for advertising if someone clicks on the link.  You can easily track ROI, and for as little as $100 per month can drive much traffic to your website.

4)    Target Cell Phone Users – invest in Mobile on the Go, new mobile apps, and other methods to target cell phone users who are geographically near your winery.  Adopt QR codes and other methods to allow consumers to review and purchase wine via cell phone.

5)    Get on YouTube – film a short and interesting video about your wine, winery, vineyard, or a brand related event and place on Youtube.  This doesn’t have to cost much or be professionally filmed.  Wineries with larger marketing budgets should consider purchasing their own Youtube channel as many spirits companies are, e.g. Gray Goose, Captain Morgan

6)    *Connect the Social Media Dots – have an authentic social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to drive traffic to your website, but more importantly adopt the new Google +1 Button when it becomes available (http://www.google.com/+1/button/). This will allow consumers to give their stamp of approval to your wines and website, and will show up on search engines so your friends/family will know the wines you recommend.

7)    Track Online Sales Results – appoint someone at your winery to learn how to analyze online wine sales.  There are many free tools, such as Google Analytics, that tell you how many “eye balls” have looked at your URL, as well as how many have clicked through and purchased wine.  Other tools provide data on where to place wine on your webpage to increase sales

8)  Tasteful Email Promotions and Social Media Updates – this last tip is from Nyk King of Chateau Montelena who cautions not to bombard wine club members/mailing list with too many emails and social media updates.  Email promotions should be tasteful and occur once or twice a month.  Facebook and Twitter updates should use a ratio of 1 to 7.  This means that 1 out of every 7 comments should promote wine brand while the other 6 should focus on community happenings and other conversation that reflects the authentic character of the winery and its employees.

What Type of Sparkling Wine Do Millennials Prefer? Korbel and Gloria-Ferrer Help Answer the Question

Research studies have shown that in addition to dry red and semi-sweet white wines, another favorite category of Millennials is sparkling wine.  With this in mind, the SSU Winesense Tasting Club sponsored a “Battle of the Bubblies” evening and invited Korbel and Gloria-Ferrer to share some of their exciting sparkling wines.


Korbel Champagne Cellars

Headquartered in the Russian River AVA, Korbel was established in 1882 and is the oldest continually operating champagne house in North America.  Head winemaker, Erica Mandl, providing fascinating commentary on the history of the winery, as well as production information on the 4 wines she brought:  Korbel Natural, Brut, Rouge and Sweet Rose.  All of Korbel’s wines are made using the traditional “method champenoise” process which includes secondary fermentation in the bottle.  For more information see:  http://www.korbel.com/


Gloria-Ferrer Sparkling Wine Caves

Located in the Carneros AVA of Sonoma County, Gloria-Ferrer was the first sparkling house in this region.  Corporate headquarters are actually in Spain where the winery is owned by the Ferrer Family who also makes the famous Freixenet – black bottle bubbly.  Jen Watson, Hospitality Rep, described the Gloria-Ferrer winemaking philosophy and sustainable practices used at the winery.  The three Gloria-Ferrer wines featured for the evening were:  Sonoma Brut, 2002 Royal Cuvee, and VA di VI.  For more information see:  http://www.gloriaferrer.com/.


And The Favorites Were

At the end of the tasting, before prices were revealed, a vote was held on favorite wines of the evening.  For the 45 Millennials present there were 3 ties for favorite wine:

ü  Korbel NV Rouge ($14.99) is a rare sparkling red wine made from pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon.  “It is a love it or hate it wine,” announced Erica Mandel, the winemaker.  However a large majority of the Millennials loved it and pronounced it a favorite of the evening – especially for male Millennials.  With a black cherry and plum nose, a residual sugar of 1%, and a big hearty style but with bubbles, this wine pairs well with red meats and works especially nicely with Thanksgiving turkey.

ü  Korbel Sweet Rose ($14.99) is a sweet dessert wine with a nose of ripe strawberry and fresh fruit on the palate.  It includes a variety of grapes such as sangiovese, zinfandel, and pinot noir.  The delicate bubbles and residual sugar of 6% make this a lovely choice for dessert or a fun appetizer wine.

ü  Gloria-Ferrer VA di VI ($22) is a recently released brand.  The phrase “va di vi,” means “It’s About the Wine.”  This wine has a hint of sweetness and includes muscat, pinot noir, and chardonnay.  It begins with lovely floral aromas and expands into ripe apple, peach, and lemon on the palate with a creamy texture to the bubbles.  It pairs wonderfully with appetizers, Asian food, and desserts.


Champagne Food Pairing

When Chef Giana saw the list of sparkling wines that were on the tasting menu for the evening, she created a pairing menu that would match the different sugar levels and grape varietals used:

ü  For the Korbel Natural, Korbel Brut, and Gloria-Ferrer Sonoma Cuvee, she prepared a Shrimp Salad with Pears, Celery, and a Lemon Champagne Vinagarette.  An appetizer of Dried Almonds also complimented these wines.

ü  The more full-bodied and yeasty Gloria-Ferrer Royal Cuvee and the Korbel Rouge were a good match for Gnocchi made with Ricotta and Mimolette Cheese fried in butter and fresh basil.  French Bread with Olive Dipping Sauce was a nice accompaniment.

ü  For the sweeter dessert wines of Gloria-Ferrer Va di Vi and Korbel Sweet Rose, Chef Giana splurged and bought Sift Cupcakes – Limonatta and Raspberry Pink Champagne– of course!