The Ohio Grape Industries Committee (OGIC) — the government organization that supports the 250+ wineries in the state of Ohio with marketing and promotions — was interested in improving their marketing efforts. They wanted to drive more people to Ohio wineries and get more people to drink more Ohio wine. They wanted to start by getting a better handle on the perceptions consumers have of Ohio wines and wineries.
We brought the OGIC a three-pronged approach.
Stakeholders and Secondary Research
We conducted 60-minute interviews with key retailers, distributors, association chairs and winery owners in the region while tapping into industry reports and social-listening tools. By quickly immersing ourselves into the category and the challenges specific to the Ohio market, we were able to craft a compelling discussion guide to help us learn as much as possible in the next step.
We held six 90-minute focus groups with six respondents per group. By holding groups in multiple locations (central and northeast Ohio) with respondents who represented a mix of ages, races, genders and wine consumption habits, we were able to get actionable feedback from a wide swath of our target audience.
We served a 24-question survey to more than 600 consumers, designed to quantify the findings we heard in qualitative.
- Consumers love Ohio wine.
Stakeholders were less complimentary and at times even apologetic about some of the wine produced in the state. We found that consumer perception flipped this preconceived notion on its head. Not only did consumers rate Ohio wines very favorably, but they rated them better than wine from other states in comparison. We recommended that the industry employ more confidence about their product via marketing and everyday operations to take advantage of consumers’ already-favorable opinion.
- Awareness is a key outage.
The biggest opportunity for Ohio Wines is that consumers don’t know there are 250+ wineries in Ohio or that so many are typically located so close to where they live and work. It’s important to drive awareness that these wineries exist, either via individual or cohort marketing efforts.
- The experience is about more than just wine.
We received a lot of positive feedback about the experience consumers have at wineries beyond the wine itself. From the wineries growing their own grapes and showing off their production operations to those with live music and family-centered entertainment, people are willing to spend their money at wineries, which led to our recommendation to focus first at the winery (before at shelves or in restaurants) in marketing planning.
- "Local" could be leveraged better.
Consumers are motivated to buy local products, yet wineries aren’t doing much to market wine as produced or grown locally. By taking a page from the craft beer market, wineries can better tap into the growing consumer desire to shop local.
The strong understanding of consumer perceptions we were able to build as part of this work has been a foundation from which we’ve continued to grow the OGIC. Thanks to this work, we’ve also helped the OGIC develop a brand position, marketing strategy and brand guidelines to support their efforts moving forward.