“Ripening opportunities” in NZ wine tourism

Developing an online presence and targeting the growing American and Asian visitor markets are crucial factors in unlocking New Zealand’s wine tourism opportunity, according to a new report.

Ripening Opportunities, the wine industry benchmarking and insights 2017 report by Deloitte, ANZ and New Zealand Winegrowers said that although “wine tourism is already big business with a recent ruin of hot form, you ain’t seen nothing yet with further growth to come”.

Against a backdrop of growing international visitor numbers and visitor spend and the higher average spend of those visiting wineries – some $4,500 per visit compared with an average of $3,200 – the report looked at how further growth could be achieved.

It noted that consumers are increasingly being reached through internet, mobile apps and social media so “an online presence is a necessity”.

“The ability of tourists to repeat purchase products 
once back in their home country is important when they want to relive
their holiday experience. The changing nature of sale channels through the internet, mobile apps and social media 
is allowing this to occur more easily (both in time and cost) than has historically been the case.”

Interestingly, it added that although many wineries already have an online presence, a recent Winegrowers survey showed only six had a Chinese language capacity, “and yet this is the country that is set to become our top tourist earner in the near-term”.

It also suggested developing entirely new products with the international tourist specifically in mind.

“This could take a range of avenues, but should be targeted at the natural growth areas of Asia and North America. The two groups have quite different wine tastes, food preferences.”

It also gave specific examples of products or experiences that could be developed including joint ventures with “some top accommodation providers that give options of winery stays or eco-type accommodation with nice vistas”.

This, the report said, would potentially help alleviate capacity constraints at key times of the year and tourist hot spots.

Collaborating with others in the food and beverage sectors to develop more specialised stores or unique shopping experiences, also presents a potential avenue for growth.

Examples could include “more specialty stores in high-volume tourism thoroughfares and areas that stock only uniquely New Zealand food and beverage products. This can include a range of products, or focus on specific category (i.e. beverages).

“Equally, there would seem to be greater opportunities to give tourists a controlled experience of the entire production process (growing, harvesting, processing etc) that is then followed up with a shopping, dining, or other event experience.

“There are certainly some examples of this occurring, but with lifting tourism spending there feels like scope for more,” the report added.

Creating lasting authentic experiences that drive future product loyalty was another suggestion.

“Cultural experiences, such as experiencing the great outdoors, New Zealand’s natural scenery and Māori traditions etc need to be combined into all products and services being offered to international visitors. This can help drive brand loyalty and repeat purchases of New Zealand food and beverage products once they return home.”

In terms of support for the sector, the report noted the opportunity to encourage or incentivise tour operators to include agri-tourism experiences within their packages, perhaps marketed as the “all NZ” experience.

“This could include visits to farms, orchards, vineyards, tasting rooms etc. Dedicated farms could perhaps be “developed” for this purpose. Encouragingly, the number of Chinese tourists visiting farms or orchards is already high. However, their penetration for food and wine events and vineyards is below average. It’s the reverse for US and UK visitors.”

The total value of exports in the wine industry in 2017 was $1.66bn according to the report, with more than 200 million litres exported to the ‘big three’ markets of UK, US and Australia for the first time in 2017. There are 247 cellar doors across New Zealand’s wine regions led by Auckland on 48.

In the South Island, Central Otago contains almost as many wineries as Marlborough, despite producing 8,324 tonnes compared with Marlborough’s 302,396 tonnes.

Both regions are also comparable on their total number of cellar doors with Marlborough on 36 and Central Otago on 34.

The report follows the launch last week of a Tourism New Zealand and New Zealand Winegrowers-initiative which provides online tools to help the industry grow the value of their business by sharing information about international visitors.

New Zealand Wine’s head of global marketing, Chris Yorke, says wineries around New Zealand are choosing to ramp up their tourism offerings as a part of a strategy that is expected to see wine exports reach $2bn annually by 2020.

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