Although the wine industry has been facing challenges that held back the industry, it is apparent that the stake holders in the industry have used the opportunity to tackle the challenges that the industry is facing. Currently, the South African wine industry is working towards transformation and building sustainable South African Wine brands. The majority of the brand owners in South Africa are currently focusing on the previously neglected market being the “Black market”.
It is no doubt that this market that will bring change to the industry. Exporting bulk wine to international markets has now become quite expensive for producers due to the drop in the value of the rand in comparison to the dollar. This has had a huge impact on the wine industry especially upcoming wine makers as they are not able to make profits or even think of exporting.
The black market commonly known as the ‘’black diamonds’’ has the potential to elevate the wine industry. This market has the highest purchasing power. The so called “black diamonds” are part of a growing culture that are hugely influenced by social media trends, especially when it comes to lifestyle. What is important to note is that the black consumer market particularly when it comes to the consumption of wine is that it need to be carefully understood.
The market has been previously neglected and products have not adequately addressed the needs of the black consumer. When targeting a black consumer market, it is important to always bring it closer to home. Brands or products need to ensure the consumer feels comfortable and is line with its everyday lifestyle. Cut out on the things that the market isn’t familiar with such as, emphases on gold medals won by the particular wine, western cuisine food pairing and the snobbishness associated with drinking wine.
All these factors mentioned can scare away the black consumer and make them less interested in consuming wine. The black market has the desire to learn about wine and become wine enthusiasts given the right marketing. There is a dire need for the industry needs to study and understand the black market. Make wine brands that are accommodate the needs of the black consumer. For e.g. when discussing wine and food pairing, there should be an emphasis on pairing food with braai meat or African cuisine meals. This will allow the consumer to feel comfortable with drinking wine and actually pair it with their everyday meal.
Attracting more black people to become brand owners and become active role players in the industry is another way to unleash the potential of this particular market. It is apparent that some of the South African brands such as Four cousins, 4th street and Dellush have made a success in marketing and attracting black consumers. These brands have managed to capture the market and produce brands that the market desire and prefer. This strategy will influence the majority to consume wine and later go deeper into wine.
The success of this transformation will help the wine industry grow locally and grow the economy and also boost the image of the South African wine brands internationally. Organizations such as WOSA are working tirelessly to improve the image of South African wine brands and help market the brands internationally.
The industry needs to focus more on wine marketing strategies, wine knowledge platforms and digital marketing that are specifically targeted at the black consumer. Social media platforms are one way of creating a spotlight on the wine industry and local black wine makers. There has been a growing number of bloggers and writers in the wine industry which has served as useful tool to create awareness, influence public perception as well as market local wine products and makers.
However, far more needs to be done to ensure people are educated. Creating more wine festivals that are targeted at upcoming black wine makers should also be considered as a key strategy to showcase products and create spaces that not only exhibits wine but the potential to consider wine making as career or business. It is only through strategic marketing that the wine industry will be transformed and be more inclusive.
Siwela Masoga is a local winemaker and one of the first black women to start her own wine label called Siwela. Her products can be sourced from www.siwelawines.co.za.