Wine wholesaler Joseph Burton never imagined he would be retailing wine direct or livestreaming wine tastings via Facebook, but when COVID closed down the majority of his market overnight, he got creative and hasn't looked back.
Doctor Digital Says
Wine is a sensory experience, calling on smell, taste and sight to understand the complexity within each glass. No one understands this better than Joseph Burton, or JB as he is known to his many clients. JB was Tasmania's first qualified sommelier, an exacting process undertaken over years to ensure the fidelity of this globally recognised skillset. Six and a half years ago JB moved from a customer facing role in restaurants to setting up a wine wholesaler specialising in unique and boutique wines from Tasmania and beyond. 95% of Joseph Burton Wines clients were wholesale - mainly restaurants, bars and hotels. When COVID19 hit overnight his market went dry, radically highlighting the imbalance in his mix of sales channels.
While JB used Facebook for business to connect with wine enthusiasts and share his knowledge, he had never considered using it as a means to educate and sell directly to consumers. But with time on his hands, and plenty of people sitting at home wondering what to drink next, an opportunity presented itself to create a live stream sommelier experience, and despite having no experience of using Facebook live stream, JB popped the cork on his idea, creating The House Wine as a regular weekly session.
Customers would be told via Facebook what three wines were being tasted, they could order them and a cheese platter too if required, then tune in and sip along with JB as he went through the finer qualities of what was on the tasting menu. The genius of this approach was that the viewers could have their own sensory experience, and connect via chat with JB and each other while they were tasting, creating a community of wine enthusiasts that may have never otherwise met.
What started as a way to keep busy during the uncertain weeks of COVID19 quickly became a viable business channel. What JB noticed was that after each episode of The House Wine, orders would roll in not only from the people who were viewing, but from other States and customers who had the same surnames - the word was being spread to family and friends who were then ordering for themselves and signing up to his monthly curated wine club, creating a viral experience in a direct to consumer market channel that formerly hadn't existed.
Livestreaming while completely new to JB was easy to learn and use with just his phone or laptop. The experience was casual and authentic, with the added bonus that customers didn't have to drive and could enjoy the experience of having an exceptional sommelier in their own homes, teaching them all the tricks of the trade. Developing a B2C customer base wasn't on the radar for Joseph Burton Wines, but neither was COVID19. His willingness to try something new, to give back to his customers and pursue sharing his love of wine eduction paid off, and in doing so grew and diversified his market offerings so even when his wholesale business is back to the new normal, he is ready to access a loyal community thirsty for his wine selections.
Do you have a product or service that you could share with your Facebook community? To learn more about how to livetream and get the most from your digital toolkit why not book in for a free session with a Digital Ready Coach in 2021?