Pouring success: making German wines the next ‘big thing’

Overview

Phipps has been working with Wines of Germany on a multi-channel integrated campaign for over 25 years and keeping ideas fresh has always been top of the agenda. Over the years, one of our key challenges has been to get German wines more widely understood by consumers, and in particular younger consumers who have no history or ‘baggage’ of German wines. Wine experts, sommeliers and the wine trade love German wines, in particular German Riesling, with a cult-like ferocity but how could we get consumers feeling the same way?  

 

The Challenge

To make this happen the trade needed to be on board – so the question became how could we get wine retailers, restaurants and wine bars all over the UK celebrating and shouting about German Riesling…  

Based on the premise that it takes 31 days to create a habit, Phipps created ‘31 Days of German Riesling’, a nationwide campaign now in its 12th year, that sees wine retailers, restaurants and wine bars up and down the country celebrate and promote Germany’s star variety, Riesling, for the whole month of July.  Over the years we’ve used research and insight to give the campaign direction.  

Insight

We knew from our annual survey in Wine Merchant Magazine that German Riesling was a firm favourite with independent wine retailers with the latest data showing 48% had been seeing positive volume sales uplift in German wine in their stores. They told us that this was in part due to German wine’s breadth of wine styles, which appeals a younger audience that enjoys trying new and different wine styles. Nielsen data also told us that sales of wine in the independent retail sector where soaring and that wines in the £10+ range were growing fast as consumers traded up for treating moments.  

At the same time, turnover of staff within the hospitality sector meant there was a thirst for educational content among new joiners. Filling knowledge gaps would enable staff to meet consumers’ need for added value and experiences in the wine bar/restaurant setting.   

Strategy & Approach

Armed with this knowledge, we knew that our campaign needed to target the independent sector with wines for treating moments and that hospitality staff needed training. 

Campaign

The campaign happens each year in two phases. Stage one is where we recruit retailers, restaurants and wine bars all over the UK to take part and host 31 Days of German Riesling in their stores and outlets. To target the independent sector, we worked with drinks publication Harpers as our media partner and recruited over 250 outlets all over the country signed up and ready for action come 1 July!   

Participants were encouraged to host in store tastings, events, dinners with winemakers, competitions and more in their shops and to focus on wines for treating moments in the £10+ range.   

As part of the campaign package for the participants, we also launched the ‘Riesling Haus Party’ series: online training sessions for the wine trade, targeting the hospitality sector in particular. The ‘Riesling Haus Party’ series educated the trade about German Riesling and how to hand-sell it to customers. It also provided a forum for importers of German wine to share any new initiatives, listings, or discounts they were introducing for 31 Days. It inspired new and returning participants by sharing best practice campaign examples from previous years and converted them into brand ambassadors for German Riesling all around the UK. 

Stage two is all about targeting consumers letting them know how, when and where to take part.  To do this, we worked with press, influencers and media partners, as well as running a fun and engaging calendar on Wines of Germany UK’s own social media channels. 

Our in-house press office activities included wine writer outreach, using consumer wine columns to spread the love for German Riesling.  

We collaborated with a total of 13 lifestyle and food and drink influencers with audiences aged 25-35 to help bring 31 Days of German Riesling to life for younger consumers and broaden the reach of the campaign. We chose micro influencers from various regions across the UK, with a combined following of over 330k to reach as many consumers as possible. The influencers were briefed to create content with German Riesling, either in a summery setting and/or in a restaurant or bar. 15 posts were shared across the influencers’ platforms, with each one encouraging their followers to also try German Riesling in July.  

To extend the reach of the campaign among consumers, especially the younger generation aged 25-35, we partnered with the online lifestyle publication Foodism to promote 31 Days of German Riesling. 

The campaign was supported by a strong social media calendar on @winesofgermanyuk’s channels. We created a fun yet informative series called ‘31 reasons to love German Riesling’ on our social media channels – giving our followers a different reason each day of July. The #31RieslingsWhy campaign included fun facts, top wine picks to try, and input from wine experts, who shared why they love German Riesling. A new set of assets was designed to give the campaign cohesion and a clear identity, making it stand out on our channels. 

Results & Learnings

The campaign involved over 250 retailers, wine bars and restaurants (including 15 Michelin-starred) with Waitrose as our national supermarket partner to run promotions, educate consumers and sell wine. The biggest year yet, we delivered on our aim to rejuvenate interest in the campaign among the UK trade for its anniversary year.  

As for reaching a new audience of consumers, our press office secured 33 articles (OTS: 2 million) in regional and national press and over on social, the campaign had a reach of 2.7 million. 

But the truth, as they say, is in the glass. During the course of the past 12 years, we’ve served up an impressive 180,000 sample glasses of German Riesling during 31 Days and in 2022 alone, over 35,000 bottles of German Riesling were purchased from participating sites (an average 400% increase compared to the previous month).  

Over the years, the 31 Days campaign has been named Drinks International’s Trade PR Campaign of the year, and also Consumer Campaign of the Year from the International Wine Challenge. But we don’t rest on our laurels, we bring something new to the table for each edition to keep the campaign fresh and keep UK wine drinkers coming back year after year. 

31 Days has become a real fixture in our calendar every year. It’s something all the staff always look forward to, it’s a chance to be creative, it's a chance to do fun stuff and it’s chance to drink a tremendous wine that we all love.

Archie McDiarmid, Luvians Bottle Shop St Andrews

Dive into the pool of the Riesling! 31 Days of German Riesling is fantastic, it sells a lot of Riesling and sells a lot of wine in general. You’re gonna attract more people and attract more customers. Go for it, dip into the Riesling pool, it’s worth it.

Joan Torrents, Halex Vinoteca

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Pouring success: making German wines the next ‘big thing’

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