Modern meets traditional: Cave Amann SA launches socialPALS pilot project

Swiss wine wholesaler Cave Amann SA takes a step towards digital marketing and offers its B2B customers the opportunity to present new, modern and traditional wines with a socialPALS campaign.

Modern meets traditional: Cave Amann SA launches socialPALS pilot project

Swiss wine wholesaler Cave Amann SA takes a step towards digital marketing and offers its B2B customers the opportunity to present new, modern and traditional wines with a socialPALS campaign.

The touchpoints of the wine industry are primarily based on direct customer contact within the framework of tastings, exhibitions or trade fairs. If these cease to exist, for instance, due to recent Covid19 restrictions, wine wholesalers also have to find new ways to inform potential customers about their range of products. Cave Amann SA started a pilot project and launched the “Julius meets Friends” campaign via the socialPALS platform. Jasmin Breitenmoser shares her insights!

Jasmin Breitenmoser
Chief Administrative Officer | Cave Amann SA

Jasmin, please tell us something about yourself and your role at Cave Amann SA!

I have been working in the wine industry for more than 15 years. Today, my passion is my profession. My work at Cave Amann SA is very diverse and varied, which is difficult to summarise.

Can you briefly tell our readers what Cave Amann SA does and the sales concept behind it?

For over 25 years, Cave Amann SA has embraced creativity, an innovative spirit, flexibility and entrepreneurship. True to our motto “INSPIRED BY WINE – PROVIDING SOLUTIONS”, we support our customers in marketing our wines. We are a B2B concept and strive to be the best partner for resellers in the wine industry throughout Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Cave Amann SA is the general importer of many wineries from all over the world. As a subsidiary of the Amann Wine Group Holding AG, we also offer a wide range of wines from our production, which meet high international standards and are also perfectly tailored to the needs of the Swiss market.

So the target group is wine retailers who, on the one hand, attach great importance to quality and, on the other hand, also like to try out new products? Which touchpoints and arguments are most effective in reaching them?

Precisely, our customers are specialized and competent resellers. Their customers, in turn, are restaurants, private and corporate customers who attach great importance to high-quality wines. We must meet the needs of the Swiss wine market, so we offer our customers a wide range of wines, our productions, new releases, and trend products. The touchpoints in our industry are primarily tastings, exhibitions, trade fairs, offline advertising, newsletters, and, above all, direct customer contact.

This way, retailers can reach their local target group online - simply and without any special marketing knowledge!
This way, retailers can reach their local target group online - simply and without any special marketing knowledge!

You used the socialPALS platform for the first time to deliver high-quality campaign content to your retailers. Why did you decide to test this new approach to automated retail marketing for efficiency in the industry?

Digitization is on everyone’s lips. So much is going on via social media, influencers, online advertising campaigns, etc.  With all these possibilities, new sales channels are open. That’s why we wanted to give it a try and see how automated retail marketing would be received in the wine world. Likewise, we found the timing appropriate, as people are placing more orders online during the pandemic.

What challenges do you currently see in the industry - both for Cave Amann SA as a wholesaler and for the local wine merchants? Have you been able to solve them with the help of the socialPALS platform?

Due to the pandemic and markedly due to the constantly changing regulations, events, trade fairs, and tastings have been cancelled – all this has negatively impacted sales figures. It was precisely at these events that a lot of wine was tasted and sold in the past. Such tasting events enable the presentation of existing assortments, new vintages, new releases, etc.

Many end customers want to taste a wine first before buying it. Of course, it is possible to present new products online – but it does not have the same effect as an actual wine sampling. These kinds of recommendations are only successful with those customers who already know and trust the wine merchant.

As a B2B wholesaler, we offered our customers the opportunity to present four wines with the “Julius meets Friends” campaign. In doing so, it was essential for us to select wines with a name – or that are so special that they arouse the interest of wine lovers. We believe that we have certainly taken a step in the right direction with socialPALS.

What exactly was the objective of the "Julius meets friends" campaign and how much internal effort did you put into marketing to get it off the ground?

The campaign aimed to create an interest in the defined target group, drive interested parties into participating stores, and thus boost sales.

It was vital for us to find out how efficient this marketing channel is in the wine industry in Switzerland. The main goal of our investment was to get customers – if possible new customers, of course – interested enough to go to the participating stores and buy the advertised products, or at least to look for more information on their website.

It took about five weeks from the kick-off meeting to the start of the campaign. The effort was manageable, but time was pressing. Communicating with the merchants and creating their profiles took the most time. Since it was our first campaign with socialPALS, everything had to be built from the ground up. Some of the efforts would be eliminated for the next campaign since various merchant profiles, and ours were already up and running. For the personalized landing pages and the posts, we only had to provide the visuals and the texts, socialPALS implemented the visualization.

How difficult was it to motivate your retail partners to participate? Is the "online marketing" module accepted as an integration into the sales concept?

Since it was a pilot project to gain experience in online marketing, we decided to invite selected customers to the campaign free of charge. All those already involved in online marketing were immediately interested in participating in “Julius meets friends.” It was undoubtedly the right time, too. Most of them had fewer visits to the stores due to the pandemic – so it was time to have more online presence.

Was the campaign successful? Were you able to draw practical learnings from it - for example, which channels/formats are best suited for the promoted product?

The analysis and the key figures show that we had a great reach with the posts and ads.
However, the feedback from the participating partners showed that the majority did not experience a significant increase in frequency in the stores or on their websites. Nor did they see a substantial increase in sales.

We will certainly make this more transparent in the next campaign to be able to measure success. An important incentive must be created that motivates the interested party to “go to the store” or another call-to-action. Otherwise, a large part of the positive effect will fizzle out.

How did the "Corona crisis" affect your industry? Did you experience a boom in sales because people spent more time at home and "treated themselves"? Or were the numbers down because many people put their "drinking pleasure" on hold due to financial fears and worries?

The pandemic has seen a painful decline in consumer spending, mainly due to restaurants’ closure and/or restrictions. This has harmed wine sales. However, what was noticeable was that those large Swiss online retailers, particularly, benefited during the lockdown and increased sales massively at times. However, when shopping in the stores was considered safer again, some customers were drawn back.

Are you already planning more campaigns to support your wine merchants?

The trial run with “Julius meets friends” gave us an initial glimpse of automated retail marketing. During the campaign and the evaluation, we became aware of various “do’s & don’ts.” We will likely run other campaigns. However, the timing is currently still unclear.

Here's what our retailers have to say:

It was our first time participating in a socialPALS campaign with Cave Amann. Registration and participation are straightforward and self-explanatory. There was hardly any time effort as a retailer, and the advertising budget was sponsored by Cave Amann! I would be delighted if we launched new campaigns for more wines in 2022 and provided with my own advertising material.

Moreira Gourmet House 
Wladimir Tropmann

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