The Italian Trade Agency (ITA), the organization through which the Italian government encourages the promotion of Italian companies abroad, presented to the media the result of the first year of the ‘Italian Wine – Taste the Passion‘ campaign. The three-year marketing program aims to elevate the image and prestige of Italy’s wines in the eyes of American consumers through a multi-initiative and multi-media campaign.
The United States is the number one foreign market in the world for Italian wine, with nearly a quarter of Italy’s entire production destined for its shores. However, the value and image of Italian wine in this market has not been consolidated yet, particularly when compared to that of France.
In this context, the campaign, in conjunction with relevant associations, institutions, and industry representatives, addresses the issue of the discrepancy between the true quality and the perceived image of Italian wine in order to increase sales of high-quality products and of a more diverse selection of wines. “In International classifications and blind tastings all over the world, Italian wines always come out on top”, ITA Director Maurizio Forte explained “so it’s clear that there is no issue of quality. And, our quality comes at much more accessible prices. There’s a perception issue.” With the tagline ‘Taste the Passion‘, which references the passion with which the country produces wine and shares it with the world. The campaign wants to improve the perception of Italian wine, better its placement, and increase average sales prices to reflect the high quality of Italian wine.
The campaign is active on many channels: with promotional videos in different formats for different media; being featured on specialty publications such as Wine Enthusiast, Market Watch, and Wine Spectator; with active social media profiles on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter; and with an informational website. It also created collaborating with distributors, sellers, and restaurant chains organizing events across the US. Moreover, one of the most important activities of the campaign is the training of restaurant workers and sommeliers. Forte explained: “When you go to a restaurant in America, usually, if the waiter or sommelier proposes a wine, you order it. When people go to a steakhouse and order a good wine, we have to make it so that people more often think of Italy and not always have the choice fall on a Cabernet from Sonoma or a Great Bordeaux. This work has already been done but there needs to be a bigger push”, for this reason, it is so important to train industry professionals to know about the wines of Italy.
The ITA‘s report on the progress of the campaign highlighted that things are going well but there is still room for improvement. Forte explained that the ITA Commission is satisfied with the outcome of the campaign so far, which gathered “900 million impressions, 85% of which on digital channels.” Adding that “There is no system that can tell you how many sales a social media post produced, you have to make a general analysis based on the overall sales performance. Certainly, all this communication and promotion has helped.” he added “Sales have gone up. The producers are asking us to continue.”
Looking at areas of growth, it must be noted that wine consumption is growing worldwide and consumer demand for sustainable wines increases year after year. Italian winemakers are perfectly positioned to respond to this demand, in fact, the global goals shared by the Italian Wine industry are smart agricultural practices, environmental impact mitigation, and waste minimization in winemaking.
Ilona Catani Scarlett