In April 2020 the Control Board announced a package of measures aimed at addressing the unprecedented state of uncertainty facing the winemaking industry following the outbreak of the COVID-19 health crisis. These included a re-evaluation and realignment of the planned promotional initiatives through the cancellation of those that might be unfeasible or impractical. Based on this strategic approach and the premise of resource optimisation, the Control Board’s marketing team designed the Te Mereces Un Rioja campaign for the Spanish market.
Department Director, Íñigo Tapiador believes that Rioja should demonstrate its status as a leading brand at a difficult time, “although it’s not just a matter of talking, but also providing a relevant response.” The call for an upturn of consumption at home during the lockdown, as well as the boost for the hospitality sector and tourism in the region during the second phase of the crisis, proved highly successful in terms of the consumers’ response. Tapiador attributes this success to the fact that the brand has acted in a streamlined manner, seizing on the collective psychology throughout this exceptional year, and rapidly adapted its messages and activities. “We’ve been very active and relevant in multiple channels, enabling us to appear close to and connected with the consumers”, explained Tapiador, “and the positive response of the young consumer segments, a group that has always been in the Control Board’s sights, has been particularly satisfactory.” In conclusion, according to the Control Board’s Marketing Director, “the vitality of the campaign has enhanced the Designation’s image and combined the construction of brand prestige with the revitalisation of consumption and sales.”
Support for the hospitality sector and the marketing of wine tourism
In its efforts to support the recovery of the hospitality channel (the most important sector for the marketing of Rioja wines) and in keeping with the spirit of solidarity with which the Te Mereces Un Rioja (You Deserve a Rioja) campaign was presented, the Control Board distributed 10,000 hygiene-sanitisation kits in partnership with the country’s main hospitality federations. Another significant event was the raffle for 15,000 free visits to 70 of the Designation’s wineries, an initiative that came jointly with the draw for unique outdoor experiences in vineyards, with the aim of sending out an unmistakable message for the revival of wine tourism in safe conditions. The campaign received the support of well-known faces from the film and entertainment industry in Spain, including Ana Milán, Maxi Iglesias, Javier Gutiérrez, Ruth Lorenzo, Javier Veiga, Marta Hazas, Nuria Roca and Raquel Sánchez Silva, who organised wine meetups with their followers via their Instagram accounts, toasting with and to Te Mereces Un Rioja.
In autumn the campaign switched to national television with a call for optimism and solidarity. Consumers were invited to design and share their own Rioja wine labels with dedications and messages of support and encouragement to help face with everyday life with determination and hope and attempt to get through these difficult times and come out the other side feeling stronger. The creative piece extolled this fighting and pioneering character through an original visual story illustrating various Rioja labels which also symbolised the diversity of the region’s wines.
Finally, e-commerce platforms such as Bodeboca, Drinks&Co and Lavinia promoted the sale of hundreds of Rioja products by using the Te Mereces Un Rioja slogan. At the same time, dozens of El Corte Inglés, Hipercor, Carrefour and Eroski points of sale employed the same slogan, accompanied by promotional incentives to feature Rioja products on their shelves.
Promotion in the main international markets
Having overcome the initial weeks of uncertainty, the upward trends in the export markets led the Board to agree on an additional investment of 1,600,000 euros to increase the total marketing budget to 7,500,000 euros. The aims of this additional boost were to contribute to the recovery of sales as quickly as possible and to consolidate the increase in exports recorded during the first half of the year (+4.5%). The Board reinforced its marketing plan in Spain and the most important international markets for Rioja, including the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States, implementing numerous promotional initiatives in both digital and physical media in the retail, e-commerce and trade fair areas.
In the United Kingdom, Rioja’s principal international destination in terms of value and volume, where the frequency and overall consumption of wine have increased considerably in recent months, important agreements have been reached to make the Designation’s most premium commercial offer visible on well-established e-commerce platforms such as Virgin Wines, Majestic, Wine Society and Laithwaites, as well as reinforcing communication and activities with the press. Moreover, the ‘Shop Rioja’ campaign has reinforced the presence of Rioja wines in small and medium-sized specialist stores, with several dozen independent retailers taking part by encouraging purchases of Rioja wine using brand awareness elements and educational activities.
In order to increase awareness of the Rioja brand in Germany, influencers, hoteliers and sommeliers have conducted tastings and pairings at points of sales, in their own channels and on social media, as well as in lifestyle magazines. The Control Board has also reached a collaboration agreement with Hawesko, one of the largest e-commerce platforms for wine in Germany with a selection of more than 5,000 international references, including more than 140 Rioja wines, and a portfolio of around 500,000 customers, who, for the first time ever, have been offered thematic boxes of Rioja wines with up to three choices of assortments adapted to each buyer’s level of knowledge and budget.
The United States and Canada rank third in terms of sales of Rioja and the operations carried out in these markets over the last year have proved positive for the Designation. It is worth highlighting the professional agreements reached with distribution chains, the hospitality sector and e-commerce platforms such as Wine.com and Seven-Fifty.com. Furthermore, other digital operators such as Spec’s Wines & Spirits, Total Wine and B-21 have conducted communication initiatives about the Rioja wine ranges that they sell. For International Tempranillo Day on 19 November, the www.wine.com platform, one of the country’s largest wine-related e-commerce websites, offered a live virtual tasting of Rioja wines hosted by three of the Designation’s winery owners.
In the case of Switzerland, despite it being small in size, the fourth largest importer of Rioja wines the popular Flaschenpost startup offered four special packs of Rioja as part of the range of products in its online store: clásicos, bravos, icónicos and descubrimientos. 17 importers revitalised social media in Switzerland by promoting a set of videos presenting 20 of the Designation’s wines in partnership with the Control Board.
Physical events in China and Russia
The favourable evolution of the pandemic in China meant it was possible to hold several physical events, including the ‘Rioja Fantástico’ event held in Shanghai on 17 October, a fair attended by 500 people that included the presentation of 86 wines from 26 of the Designation’s wineries. In November Rioja attended the first Wine to Asia fair held in Shenzhen with an institutional stand at which 170 wines from 47 wineries were presented to over 3,000 visitors. The 2020 campaign in China ended in December with the organisation of three Rioja wine fairs in the cities of Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Changsha, events attended by over 1,200 professionals who were offered wines from 78 wineries along with lectures on Rioja by the expert tasters Tingshan Li, Ofilos Wu and Vicente Xu.
Russia, which has become the fifth largest importer of Rioja wines, is another market where physical meetings were possible in autumn. On 18 November the 6th Rioja Wines in Moscow Fair was held in the GUM department store in Red Square and attended by 400 professionals from the industry. To promote the Designation among Russian consumers, renowned expert Denis Roudenko is broadcasting a series of videos on his YouTube channel in which he goes through the range of Rioja wines that can be purchased from the Perekrestok, Pyaterochka, Karuse, Magnit, Lenta and Metro chains.