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Engagement: Not all events are equal

By Stephanie Timotheou, Grapegrower & Winemaker

There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of winery events and festivals staged across Australia each year, so there was plenty of fodder for Teagan Altschwager and her events project with the University of Adelaide’s wine marketing research team.

Altschwager, a PhD candidate with the university’s business school, found while events can successfully draw a crowd, they don’t always result in guests leaving with a lasting memory of a particular wine label.

The study on how effective events are, in terms of boosting sales, analysed various events and Altschwager suggests most fit into one of three categories:

  • Cognitive – educating attendees about the brand;
  • Sensory – wine tasting, food matching etc.; or
  • Relational – offering interaction with winemakers, staff and other attendees.

Altschwager describes a brand-focused event as one which teaches attendees about the wine, whether it’s tasting and learning about different styles or taking part in a ‘make your own blend’ session.

“It’s all very focused on the wine brand itself,” she said. “If you compare that to music events, yes you’re at the
winery, probably drinking the wine but the focus is on the music. Customers will remember the experience but may
not necessarily remember the winery hosting it.”

While events with a strong brand focus, such as the Heathcote Wine and Food Festival, are more likely to encourage guests to purchase, those more focussed on entertainment or centred on music and art, such as the Coonawarra Vignerons Cup Race Day or A Day on the Green, are less likely to encourage future purchase intentions.

The Heathcote Wine and Food Festival, now in its 13th year, set new attendance records with more than 4500 people visiting the region for this year's event, and Phil Meehan, Heathcote Winegrowers’ Association president, said wine exhibitors all reported strong sales across the weekend.

“Our product boosts the name of Heathcote all around the world and the festival in 2014 has again allowed us to showcase our community to what we believe has been a record crowd,” Meehan said.

Events oriented to entertainment, such as the Coonawarra Vignerons Cup Race Day, which has a strong focus on music, food, entertainment and horse racing, are more about the overall experience rather than the wine. The Vignerons Cup attracts more than 3000 visitors, with up to 700 guests hosted by Coonawarra Grape and Wine Inc. in a marquee and treated to a day of fun, food, fashion and wine.

Altschwager said this type of events is less likely to encourage guests to purchase the specific wine they’re drinking, and instead direct focus to the enjoyment of the event.

To read the full article, grab a copy of Grapegrower & Winemaker's November 2014 issue: www.winebiz.com.au/gwm/subscribe

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