There is a niche for experimental, innovative wines. Only a niche, though. Almost all wines are made with processes developed decades or centuries ago which changed very little over time. One could therefore think that the wine industry is somehow stale, unchanging. But the speakers we invited reminded us that innovation doesn’t necessarily involve the product itself but can aim to affect the consumer’s experience instead.
For Filippo Galanti, CEO and founder of Divinea, this means turning wine consumption into a holistic experience. His company sells wine tourism packages so that people can enjoy wine in the region and even in the winery it has been made. This might not seem innovative, as the practice is already popular in France, California and other regions. In Italy, though, Divinea is one of the first large scale aggregator of such experiences. Not only all the offers are collected on their website, but a widget is available for the wineries’ website to book in the most convenient way for all the parties involved.
Afterward, Mateo Pinzon, business developer for Vinhood, explained to us the idea behind his company. E-commerce for wine is a growing business, worldwide and especially in Italy, but as more companies get into this market competition sharply increases. To emerge it is necessary to differentiate the offer from that of competitors, which isn’t especially easy as the products that are sold are at large the same. Still, Vinhood managed to offer something that the competition doesn’t: a short and simple test to determine which kind of consumer you are and what kind of wines you might like. While one could wonder about how scientific and accurate the method is, there is no doubt about how effective the narrative can be, and how much the experience can be improved just by receiving specific recommendations catered just to you.
Our final speaker was Valeria Righetti, Senior Brand Manager of the wine division at Dom Perignon & Moet Hennessy (the MH part of LVMH, for those who like fashion), a company that is certainly among the most innovative in the wine world. Once again, it might seem counterintuitive as they make one of the most prestigious traditional champagne… But their portfolio of wines is broad add quite differentiate, prompting very different strategies. For some (Dom Perignon), it might be a veil of mystery around the whole production process. For another (Krug), it might be the promise of quality linked to total transparency, up to know where and how each bottle was made. But for many of them, the key ingredient is mixing tradition and innovation.
The company is responsible for two novel ideas. The first one is a mean of presentation, as it introduced the use of Fluorescent and luminous labels to make its wines stand out, starting from its Moet to its upscale Dom Perignon. But that’s not even the biggest concession the company made to “party culture”, as it also started the trend of Champagne on the rocks. While against a long-standing tradition, it is not a threat to the traditional way, but an interesting new alternative to the ‘ritual’ of champagne consumption, which allows for many interesting variants. Think of champagne-based cocktails, which they promote with their Moet & Chandon’s “Ice imperial” line. A testament to the success of the idea, is certainly how many other wineries have since produced sparkling wine keeping in mind this kind of consumption.
As Ms. Righetti said, in the end, wine is just wine. You can have good wine, bad wine, or excellent wine, sure… But it is not possible to make a wine so different, so revolutionary, that it becomes a different product entirely. It just wouldn’t be wine anymore. Considering not only the product but the entire experience is certainly a fundamental lesson for the wine market… But probably one that can also be translated to many other industries.