Vivino: Putting Australian wine at the world’s fingertips

1 August 2022

The world’s largest online wine marketplace, Vivino, has launched in Australia, bringing a new export channel to the world’s wine lovers for Australian producers. It will make it easier for producers to diversify into and drive sales and marketing in new markets worldwide.

Since opening an Australian office in 2021, Vivino has onboarded 50 Australian wineries and 30 retailers, importers and distributors. Its app has been downloaded 1 million times in Australia and it has 920,000 registered users. Around 275,000 users interact on the app every month.

‘We want Vivino to champion Australian producers of all sizes and be that channel to the world for their wines,’ says James Fildes, Vivino’s General Manager in Australia.

An online marketplace connecting wine lovers and producers

Founded in 2010, Vivino offers more than 15 million wines from 242,500 wineries. The wines are available in 20 markets, including the US, Canada, Brazil, the UK, most European countries, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore. Its 59 million users can use its app to scan a label – there are 2 billion in Vivino’s database – and view information about the wine before purchase.

Key to Vivino’s success is its personalised recommendations. The app takes a user’s previous purchases, ratings and reviews to recommend new wines, styles and regions to try. Vivino’s crowd-sourced ratings and reviews are one of the platform’s distinguishing features.

‘Vivino was set up to help people learn about and understand wine without the elitism that has often smothered the wine industry,’ says Fildes.

Yarra Valley winery Levantine Hill Estate has 10 premium wines on Vivino. It has used the platform to sell some high-value and highly rate wines in the US. The winery’s Head Winemaker Paul Bridgeman singles out user-generated reviews as a key selling point. ‘I really like that the reviews are by “real” people,’ he says. ‘You can see what customers like about our wines.’

The Australian wine market: engaged and eager to diversify

Australian users have had access to Vivino for 10 years. The company launched its Marketplace service in Australia in June 2019, working with local producers to list their wines and forging partnerships with domestic retailers, distributors and importers. The Australian business was run out of Hong Kong until March 2021, when Fildes joined Vivino to build the operation locally.

‘Our monthly active users jumped to around 150,000 during the pandemic when everyone moved online,’ says Fildes. ‘We wanted to connect with this group of highly engaged, switched-on consumers willing to try and buy a wide range of wines.

‘Trade issues were also spurring Australian wineries to seek new markets. It was a crucial moment for us to become more involved in the Australian business. We have the tools and the means to connect them to a global distribution network and drinkers who regularly buy wine on the app.’

To assist its expansion into Australia, Austrade provided Vivino with information on major Australian wine organisations and connected the company to state and territory agencies.

A new export platform for Australian wineries

Vivino’s market entry couldn’t have come at a better time for Australian wineries seeking to diversify their business. Vivino offers a new channel to market that is backed by insightful data and access to a global network of wine lovers.

‘Our data shows there is growing curiosity and interest in Australian wine globally,’ says Ewan Proctor, Vivino’s Category Manager, Australia. ‘Importers are also keen to get more Australian wines into their market. What they need is a better understanding of the wine styles we make – and that’s where we can help.’

Vivino works with wineries to tell their brand story through its Strategic Brand Partnerships offering. When a Vivino user scans a bottle of their wine, they receive an email with the winery’s story. This helps build brand loyalty, increase engagement and, importantly, drive sales.

‘Vivino is not just a great marketing tool, it is also a powerful sales tool,’ says Fildes. ‘The app and the marketplace make it easy for Australian producers to reach customers, and for these customers to buy their products. We’ve already seen some great sales for Australian producers.’

One of these producers is South Australian winery Eight at the Gate Wines. It has been on Vivino since November 2020 and has six wines listed. To date, the winery has racked up $50,000 in Australian sales, and $10,000 in Hong Kong and Japan. Co-founder Jane Richards says its wines had been rated by users worldwide prior to listing with Vivino.

‘The biggest benefit for us is that these guys know how to market wine,’ she says. ‘I don’t think Australians realise how huge the use of Vivino is on a global scale. We had no idea that when we listed with Vivino in Australia, it would open us up to other international markets.

‘Vivino levels the playing field for producers like us that don’t have a giant marketing budget. They have a database of wine lovers we could only dream of having. Vivino has been nothing short of great to work with. We really feel like they are invested in our mutual success.’

The power of data

Vivino provides personalised data so wineries can track brand awareness, engagement and sales at a global level.

‘These insights help producers be more strategic about market entry,’ says Proctor. ‘It helps them see the markets where their wine styles are rating well. For instance, we can use our database of consumer ratings to find the wines with the taste profile that US palates prefer. We can recommend price points and ensure the right wines reach the right community of drinkers. This increases the chance that they will buy the wine.’

Wine giant Accolade Wines has five brands on Vivino: Hardys, Grant Burge, St Hallett, Petaluma and Mud House. It has been working with Vivino to make sure its content is engaging and friendly when consumers scan its brands. It is now focusing on emerging markets and e-commerce capabilities.

‘We’re most excited about the data we can unlock together,’ says Andrew Walsh, Accolade Wines’ Global Director, Customer and Commercial. ‘We’re only just getting started but the results are very encouraging. The Vivino team is motivated, professional and in an exciting growth phase so a perfect alignment for our business.’

Putting producers in control of pricing

Importantly, Vivino is not in the business of selling wine at low prices, a practice Proctor describes as ‘disrespectful to producers and destructive for the industry.’

‘Many online retailers lead on price or insist on price reduction as the primary tool in selling wine,’ says Fildes. ‘We don’t want to fuel that “race to the bottom”. It’s not sustainable for wineries or retailers. We want to make sure quality and price is sustainable for our partners.’

‘It’s simply not true that you have to discount to sell product – and our data backs this up,’ adds Proctor. ‘What we’ve learned is that consumers look not just at price, but at quality and relevance to their drinking style. People want to drink quality wine and are prepared to pay for it.’

‘Producers and distributors always ask: how do we know you’re not going to screw us on price?’ says Fildes. ‘We advise producers on an appropriate price for the market, but they make the final decision on the price. They will always be in control of the pricing on our platform.’

Taking more Australian wine to the world

Vivino’s Australian office is in the wine city of Adelaide. Fildes is based in South Australia’s Barossa Valley and Proctor in Victoria’s Yarra Valley. Living among winemakers in two of Australia’s most famed wine regions helps them understand their products, stories, struggles and ambitions.

Proctor is also one of 15 people in Wine Australia’s Future Leaders program. Future Leaders is the Australian wine industry’s professional and personal development program. It aims to create individuals with leadership qualities who can take their business and the sector to the next level, contributing to the future success and longevity of the Australian wine community.

‘Our immediate goals are to work more closely with producers to tell their stories in Australia and overseas,’ says Fildes. ‘We’re also working out how to best engage with other markets and level the playing field for Australian producers.’

In future, Vivino intends to pool Australian wines into a central fulfilment facility for export to the markets in which it operates. This hub model is already in use in Europe.

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