Today at 9am (Pacific time) we are speaking with Jessyca Lewis about Ukrainian wines and Wine & Love™.
Jessyca Lewis: Please tell us about your country and the City you are from in Ukraine.
Konstantine Ivanov: Ukraine, as wine country is not well known worldwide. But our winemaking culture existed in 4th Century BC. Our main wine regions are situated near Black sea and are on same latitude with Bordeaux and Burgundy.
My native city is Odessa, that is part of Bessarabia region, with border next to Moldova. This region has great soils and mild climate that allow us to make different types of wine.
Here, lots of families are making their own wine to share with close friends and relatives. So, appearance of professional wineries was only a matter of time.
Now we have big and small high quality producers that make really good wine for domestic and international market.
Jessyca Lewis: Please discuss the current competitive landscape in the Ukrainian wine industry
Konstantine Ivanov: Ukrainian wineries produce different types of wine. We have Classic method sparkling wine producers and fortified sweet wines that are great for aging. Light and fruity wines and full-bodied oaked.
Most of the wineries grow classic grape varietals such as Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Muscat. But we have also local grape varietals, for example Odessa Black, that has strong colour and can be used as single varietal wine or in blends.
The most popular product is sparkling wine, usually semisweet or sweet with bright aroma. Next is semisweet reds and whites. These commodity wines are made by big wine companies mostly. But to tell the truth we have also wineries that produce high quality wines that are competitive on international wine market.
Jessyca Lewis: What are the top countries that Ukrainian wines are exported to? Are you exporting Wine & Love™? Where?
Konstantine Ivanov: Ukrainian wineries export both bottled and bulk wine. The main share of bulk goes to Russia.
Speaking about bottled we sell wines worldwide: China, Kazakhstan, USA, UK, Poland, Denmark, Israel, even Mongolia, we can continue this list all day long. Finding buyer on international market is a difficult task for company. We don’t have much support from government and have to expand knowledge about Ukrainian wine by ourselves.
Currently Wine&Love™ is exported to China and South Korea. We have great team of true professionals that are working hard to develop export sales. Our key market for next 5 years are China, Vietnam, South Korea, USA and UK.
Besides we have «Chateau Grona» wines that have more classic labels and we make private label wines for our customers that are also exported.
Jessyca Lewis: Do you have strategic marketing plan? Are you using traditional marketing methods in Ukraine?
Konstantine Ivanov: In Ukraine we are selling successfully Bag-In-Box wine for HoReCa and launched bottle wines this year only. We don’t use traditional marketing such as tv, radio or billboards because it is not necessary for us nowadays. We are usually using social media.
Our main market is export of course, it’s about 80% of all our sells. And here we use mostly social media platforms and online press. We can target audience that we exactly want.
Marketing depends on country and region, for example in China most of usual social media is blocked so we have to adopt advertising to local ones.
Marketing plan is divided in two parts, before import and after import. We help our buyers to promote Wine&Love™, giving them all printed materials, video introductions, branded images, and all they want to help in developing of Wine & Love™ on their market.
Jessyca Lewis: What was your strategy behind creating your logo and brand? Will your logo and brand transfer easily to international markets? Was there research done on colour, usage, etc. in international countries?
Konstantine Ivanov: Wine & Love™ was created by people who are truly in love, and not only with wine. The love story on bottles was inspired by one of winery co-owner, whose real story become the ground for it.
It’s not just a wine, it’s a love story of two young people, depicted in labels of our bottles, a love story which is cross-cutting theme in our selection of young and bright wines.
Our wines are meant to reveal those feelings that accompany every classic love affair. With each bottle the story gets more interesting and more romantic.
The main concept of labels is simple: contrast three colored labels with story on them. White background, black pictures and red hears. Simple to understand and attractive on the shelf. Backlabel contains short story and qr code that redirects to our web-site. If it is necessary we back labels can be translated.
We’ve already took part in several Asian and European wine Expoes and received lots of positive feedback from professionals and direct buyers.
Jessyca Lewis: Are you currently using social media platforms to market your brand internationally? What works and what doesn’t?
Konstantine Ivanov: It goes without saying that we are using social media, because our target buyer group is 21-48 years old, most of them are active users.
Wine & Love™ is now on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. Audiences in social media differ and each platform needs its own strategy. Instagram and Facebook are easier to advertise because of flexible settings for each promotion. We created 6 videos for each bottle that are shown to people consistently with two days interval. Every video contains “to be continued..” mark to make people wait for the next, some kind of anticipation.
On Chinese market we have to use WeChat to contact our customers. There are different web-sites that allow us to sell wine directly for example JD or TaoBao.
Our wine can also be found on VinEx platform. They’ve just launched bottle exchange program and Wine & Love™ was first bottled wine posted there.
Jessyca Lewis: Please discuss how are you leveraging YouTube to market your brand. How are you using YouTube with your social media marketing strategy?
Konstantine Ivanov: Video content is most preferable now in social media. Youtube is good platform for advertising if you have video commercials. Google allows to target on exact audience, every cent will work for you.
Unfortunately, other social media prefer when you upload videos on their platform. For example, Facebook will lower appearance of your post in feed if you put link to another web-site. Today you don’t need to use side services upload video on Facebook, or even make on-line stream.
For us YouTube is a platform to hold all videos about Wine & Love™ at one place to post link everywhere we need. And place to put our promotion.
Jessyca Lewis: How are you currently leveraging your brand and brand image in an international wine market?
Konstantine Ivanov: As I mentioned before, the concept is simple to understand and attractive. We’ve made test social media promotions to figure our how people react on our wines in different countries. Every exhibition with Wine & love™ is followed with invitations in social media via paid promotions. This allows us attract more people during Expo.
Depending on Country we try to make promo event to let people know more about Wine & Love™. Also publishing in press and working with opinion leaders are very important but it goes only after finding importer/distributor in current country.
For now, we have not only English but also Chinese version of web-site with server in Hong Kong that allows to load it on mobile devices faster in China.
We constantly taking part in exhibition and sending samples for competitions.
Our Sweet Wine won a gold medal on Black Sea Region Wines & Spirits Contest 2018 judged by OIV professionals.
Our next event will be in Vietnam. It will be tasting session for wine professional.
Jessyca Lewis – MBA, International Business • University Professor • Wine Educator • Social Media Marketing • WSET2. Lecturer – Visionary -International Speaker, Wine, Marketing & social-media educator. Strategist for thebiggest brands in the wine food & travel Industries.