Hong Kong’s growing love for wine is undeniable – the latest International Wine and Spirit Research study (IWSR 2013) revealed, that Hong Kong has become Asia’s most mature wine market, consuming on average 5.3 liters per person annually – an equivalent of 41.7 million bottles combined. With an estimated growth of nearly 40% over the next 5 years – wine producers are rightfully motivated to capture the ‘hearts and minds’ of Hong Kongers – welcome to ‘Experiencing Penfolds’.
As increasing levels of affluence and high levels of aspiration among Asian consumers drive the demand for premium products, ‘brands’ have noticed in recent years that solely promoting their products (the wine, the bottle) alone, do not guarantee to attract the experience-seeking consumer. Among them is Penfolds, a brand that has been creating an impressive array of wines since 1844, greatly contributing toward Australia’s reputation as a formidable wine region – the world’s fourth largest exporter of wine.
Penfolds’ approach to enhancing a link between the winery and its target consumers is perhaps most noticeable by the number of educational events the wine maker hosts. At nearly 24 events this year in Hong Kong alone, wine experts and aspiring ‘connoisseurs’ are coming together to sense, feel, taste and interact with other like-minded patrons, eager to hear the stories that manifest the Penfold brand and every bottle that carries its own unique identification number. Events such as these are only one example of how wine makers are using every opportunity to engage with their audience, in hope of creating not only memorable moments, but indirectly grooming brand ‘ambassadors’ and well informed consumers.
Leading by example, Penfold has pioneered the concept of ‘Brand Ambassadors’ first introduced in 2004 – which has since expanded to a sizeable team of global experts, hand-picked not only for their knowledge of wine, but also their ability to convey their enthusiasm for the industry in an interesting and informative way. Such a proud Ambassador is Cressy Barnes, who is based in Hong Kong and passionate about her role in educating and engaging with audiences – whether they are aspirational consumers of fine wines, or collectors of Penfolds’ remarkable Grange. “In the absence of being in the ‘place’ (the vineyard), our role is to extend the Penfolds experience in form of educational, sampling and storytelling methods”, explains Cressy.
Creating such holistic customer experiences are now part of Penfolds’ DNA – Chief Winemaker Peter Gago himself is engaging with collectors of rare bottles, by hosting the ‘Re-corking Clinic’ introduced more then 20 years ago. This unique after-sales offering is yet another way in engaging with customers. Call it a ‘health-check’ of your collection of vintages older than 15 years, whereby each bottle is visually inspected, opened, toped up, certified and re-capsuled. This much anticipated event will occur again in Singapore on May 9th and will also take place for the first time in Shanghai. Where will wine producers take consumer experiences next? Arguably, many more opportunities exist in extending rich, authentic and memorable engagements with experience-seeking consumers – we’ll be sure to keep you posted!