Since 1990, the British Columbia Wine Institute (BCWI) has played a pivotal role in taking BC’s wine industry from a vision to an internationally recognized niche region producing premium wines and providing exceptional wine tourism experiences.
February 1, 2021 the BCWI announced that we had changed our name to Wine Growers British Columbia to better reflect the value-add agriculture, agri-food and growth opportunities of this dynamic industry.
Following the lead of our national organization, recently renamed Wine Growers Canada, renaming ourselves as WGBC reflects our deep connection to the land, from the vineyard to the glass, and repositions the BC wine industry and WGBC as the high value agri-food product and economic growth generator we are.
At the organization’s Annual General Meeting on September 1, 2020, the Board of Directors identified the importance of rebranding to Wine Growers British Columbia to better align with other provincial and national associations. Organization members voted unanimously to make the change.
As farmers, winemakers, retailers and tourism operators, the BC wine industry is the highest value-add agricultural product in British Columbia, contributing more than $2.8 billion in annual economic impact. Repositioning the organization as Wine Growers British Columbia is a significant step in keeping our industry moving forward and better reflects the BC wine industry as part of a complex value-added agri-food chain and not simply a beverage alcohol product.
Wine Growers British Columbia continues to represent wineries across all nine wine growing regions of BC. WGBC will continue to bring together our membership to market the wines and wine regions of BC; deliver quality trade, media and consumer tastings; and advocate to government on behalf of industry by working cooperatively with governments and stakeholders at all levels to find solutions that benefit BC wines and the communities in which we work and live.
Fiscal Year 2020/21 Objectives
As Q4 closes out FY21 here is a quick snapshot in relevance to objectives set for this past year. Further details will be made available in the FY2020/21 Annual Report.
BC RETAIL: Build BC wine presence in retail channels
BC VQA Wine litre market share will increase by more than overall wine category in British Columbia
– Though BC VQA litre sales continued to grow throughout FY21 with a total growth of 370,257 litres* Market share decreased by -3.67%* compared to the growth of the overall wine category by 0.71%*. This is seen largely in part to consumers trading down in price and up in format size due to the impact of COVID-19.
TOURISM: Grow wine tourism
BC winery direct sales in British Columbia will increase by 5%.
– Winery direct sales increased by 29.05%*
Average retail price per BC VQA Wine bottle sold in British Columbia will be $19.00 (incl tax).
– Even with consumer trends resulting from COVID-19 to trading down in price per litre and larger format purchases, BC VQA’s continued to maintain a more premium retail price point at $18.43* (based on a 20% mark-up).
Wines of British Columbia promotional programming for British Columbia retail channels will be developed and implemented.
– Key campaigns ran throughout the year and show a direct correlation to BC VQA litre sales when in market.
*As of the end of February 2021 Rolling 12. Full FY20-21 numbers to the end of March 2021 were not available at the time of the Q4 publication and will be available in the FY20-21 Annual Report.
BRAND BC: Build and promote a world-class brand
Establish key performance benchmarks for stakeholder awareness, perception and usage of the Wines of British Columbia brand that will materially increase over the fiscal.
LIVING THE BRAND WORKSHOPS
Building Brand BC is a strategic pillar of our Wine BC 2030 Plan and we have developed a Living the Brand workshop to support this strategic pillar. Over the past year, Wine Growers British Columbia has been working with Stormy Lake Consultants and our Marketing and Communications Committee, which is made up of key BC wine industry professionals, to update the Wines of British Columbia Brand and to develop this Living the Brand workshop. The Living the Brand workshop has been developed to share the Wines of British Columbia brand strategy with industry stakeholders and partners in a format that reveals how the BC Wine Brand can help their own brands be successful and how overall stakeholder and partner support and alignment will strengthen our BC wine industry.
Recognizing the value and importance that Regional Winery Associations contribute to our BC wine industry we invited them to attend, participate and provide insights into this new program by attending our first Living the Brand workshop. Moving into FY22, we will be offering Living the Brand workshops throughout the year. Registration details will be available shortly.
WINES OF BRITISH COLUMBIA AMBASSADOR PROGRAM FACILITATOR TEAM
During this final quarter of FY21, Wine Growers British Columbia recruited and trained a team of 15 experienced and qualified Wines of British Columbia Ambassador Program Facilitators. These facilitators were strategically selected to represent the various communities throughout the province and Alberta with expertise and experience in the various channels: hospitality, retail, winery, agency. Each facilitator will be working to develop and strengthen industry and trade relationships within their communities, building a deeper connection with BC wine and our local BC wine industry by delivering our newly certified Wines of British Columbia Ambassador Program Levels 1 and 2. The goal is to have 500 key trade throughout BC and Alberta certified through the program in FY22. Facilitator list including bios is available here.
Due to ongoing COVID-19 protocols and restrictions, Level 1 will be offered virtually this spring before the May long weekend in time to train winery staff and industry in preparation for the high tourism season. Wines of British Columbia Ambassador Program and registration information can be found here.
Signaling the beginning of a new year, WGBC kicked off the fourth quarter with the exciting announcement of our organizations’ new name, now officially known as Wine Growers British Columbia, which garnered positive media attention across the country. As Q4 closes out FY21, WGBC communications initiatives would bring industry, members and stakeholders together laying the groundwork for a successful COVID-19 recovery for the BC wine industry in the year ahead.
On March 18, 173 industry associations and stakeholders came together virtually for the fourth annual BC Wine Industry Insight Conference themed, Navigating the Future – Together, marking one year since the last time we were physically together as an industry.
Fiscal 2022 Advocacy, Communications and Marketing Plan
Utilizing WineBC 2030 Long-Term Strategic Plan as a visionary roadmap and under the strategic direction of the WGBC Board of Directors, WGBC developed its Fiscal Year 2022 Advocacy, Communications and Marketing Operational Plan with input from the WGBC Marketing and Communications Committee. We look forward to continued stakeholder collaboration and partnerships as we embark on the future of WineBC 2030.
BRAND BC: BUILD AND PROMOTE A WORLD-CLASS BRAND
Establish key performance benchmarks for stakeholder awareness, perception and usage of the Wines of British Columbia brand that will materially increase over the fiscal.
Wine Intelligence Proprietary WGBC Research
WGBC was thrilled to invite Wine Intelligence co-founder and CEO, Lulie Halstead, to present findings from the first wave of WGBC’s proprietary consumer and trade region tracking survey at the BC Wine Industry Insight Conference. Looking at wine origin and how Wines of British Columbia are perceived and positioned in the Canadian market, this first wave of region tracking surveys resulted in 1,000 regular wine drinker respondents and 382 wine trade respondents in Canada.
According to key BC consumer findings from the survey:
- British Columbia wines rank 8th in terms of awareness amongst all Canadian wine drinkers and 3rd amongst BC wine drinkers
- 69% perceive Wines of British Columbia high to very high quality
- 53% associate BC wine with good value for money
- 42% associate BC wine with being sustainably produced
According to key BC and Alberta trade findings from the survey:
- 78% perceive Wines of British Columbia as high to very high quality
- 66% associate Wines of British Columbia with Wines they are proud to serve
- 60% associate BC wine with being welcoming and diverse
These surveys will be conducted by Wine Intelligence over a three-year period, and findings will be used to establish key performance benchmarks for driving trade and consumer perception change as a measurable objective in the WGBC annual operational plan in support of our Wine BC 2030 strategic pillar, Building Brand BC. Read the full report here.
New certified Wines of British Columbia Ambassador Program Level 1 and 2 launched!
Vinica’s Aspiring BIPOC Wine Professionals become certified BC Wine Ambassadors
Wine Growers BC was thrilled to deliver the new, revised and certified Wines of British Columbia Ambassador Program to Vinica Education Society’s AgriDiversity Leadership program on March 17, 2021. Vinicia is a not-for-profit society focused on diversifying the wine industry through innovative education and professional mentorship. Supported by the Province of British Columbia, Wine Growers BC and the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, Vinica’s nine-week AgriDiversity Leadership program provided aspiring BIPOC wine professionals with education, mentorship and experience, to emerge as leaders in the wine industry. The 21 program participants graduated April 9, 2021 with BC Wine Ambassador Levels 1 and 2 certification, as well as WSET Levels 2 and 3, mentorship from top global BIPOC wine professionals and a two-week internship in the BC wine industry.
WGBC conducted two virtual media training sessions for WGBC member wineries, facilitated by PR expert Leeann Froese, co-owner of Townhall Brands. Utilizing the Wines of British Columbia Living the Brand materials, these webinars focused on providing winery spokespersons with the storytelling tools and information needed to effectively communicate with media and present their stories on behalf of their wineries and the industry.
WGBC is always looking for a diversity of winery spokespeople to participate in our media initiatives, whether it be on a panel, a FAM tour, an interview or a winemakers’ dinner. Webinar recordings, presentations and handouts are available at WineBC.com.
Direct and indirect media coverage of Wine Growers British Columbia, its members and the Wines of British Columbia reached 126.6 million readers and viewers from January 1 through March 31. Value for media coverage totalled $1,171,286.
WGBC Name Change
BC Wine Industry Insight Conference
Highlights in the news from January 1 through March 31:
Decanter Premium | Canadian Riesling: British Columbia’s best buys
USA Today | How to Navigate British Columbia’s Nearly 300 Wineries like a Pro
Vancouver Sun | B.C. wineries look to improve market share as restaurant sales plummet
Calgary Herald | Oleksyn: Raise a glass to the women of wine
Global News | Indoor wine tastings still permitted amid new B.C. COVID-19 restrictions
Vancouver Sun | Salut: Vancouver restaurants proudly pour B.C. wines amid tough times for all
Kelowna Daily Courier | A perfect week for icewine
Vancouver Sun | Anthony Gismondi: Organic ideas are growing in B.C.’s wine industry
Global News | B.C. Wine Institute rebrands to better reflect industry
BCLiving | What You Loved in 2020: Our Most Popular Stories
For the full Q4 Media Report, click here.
PRESS RELEASE ROUND-UP
To ensure the Wines of British Columbia stay top of mind in key markets and to make sure consumers and industry remain informed on issues affecting the wine industry, Wine Growers British Columbia regularly issues press releases to a group of more than 300 national and international media.
You can find all press releases issued in Q4 in the Media section of WineBC.com
This quarter had some great highlights. Despite continued travel restrictions, WineBC.com’s Discover BC Wine Country pages continued to be in the top five pages showing a continued interest in travelling here when it is safe to do. The Wines of BC Explorer App exceeded 10,000 downloads in its first 10 months of launching. And the smaller Wine Goals campaign saw an impressive 897,000 engagements.
Wine Goals and Valentine’s Day
The Wine Goals campaign showed consumers creative ways to be active and practice good self-care while enjoying premium BC wine. It includes digital images for social, influencer strategy, a video, billboards, Narcity media buy and print materials in Save-On-Foods. I heart BC wine masks were a popular gift with purchase for consumers who bought four or more bottles of wine.
The gift with purchase saw success in stores so additional print materials and I heart BC wine masks were created and sent to Save-On-Foods for Valentine’s Day. WGBC also created a sparkling wine Valentine’s day video using videos and images submitted from wineries which engaged 39,641 people on social and reached 70,592.
Wine Goals and Valentine’s day campaigns together reached 50 million consumers and engaged a remarkable 897,000 people.
Alberta Co-op Virtual Tasting
Co-op Wine Spirits Beer hosted a virtual event featuring three BC winemakers. WGBC supported the event with three videos of BC Winemakers in the Vineyard, swag and digital promotion. The event quickly sold out with 100 households who learned about and tasted the BC wines along with the winemakers.
These BC Winemakers in the Vineyard videos and others continue to be repurposed for educational purposes including the Ambassador program.
BC Liquor Stores
Boutique Wines from BC quarterly program continued for the month of February with 10 new small-lot wine listings. Kurtis Kolt wrote a blog on the 10 selected wines and it was once again very popular. It was the second highest visited webpage on WineBC.com with an average time on page of two minutes and 31 seconds. A full-page ad was also placed in the winter edition of Taste Magazine promoting the Boutique Wines program. Social media reach 213,889 consumers and engaged with 24,358.
Wines of BC Explorer App
The Wines of BC Explorer App has now exceeded more than 10,000 downloads within its first 10 months of launch. This quarter it had 56,183 engagements. The most popular lists were Red Wines for You’ and ‘Okanagan Valley. WGBC launched several new lists including Boutique Wines from BC, Somm Smackdown Wines, Spring Release Wines, Decanter Best BC Rieslings, Wine Experiences and Shipping Promotions. Winery website links were clicked more than 1500 times.
Dine Out and Around
Wines of British Columbia sponsored Dine Out Vancouver, Dine Around Thompson Okanagan and Dine Around and Stay in Town Victoria. The programs encouraged consumers to get out safely with takeout and pick-up options. They all reported strong participation. Here are some highlights:
Dine Around Sip, Savour, Save (Interior BC)
- 48% of restaurants saw an increase in beverage sales compared to previous year time period;
- Restaurants Highlighting BC VQA Wine pairings: 50 of 58
Dine Out Vancouver
- 25% suggested Dine Out drove additional customers to their restaurant during the festival dates.
- The website had 3,958,102 pageviews and 2,357,954 menu views.
- Social engagements highlighting BC VQA reached 19,254 and engaged 397.
- 2% of restaurants included wine pairings on their online menu submissions.
Dine Around Stay in Town Victoria (DASIT)
- Our measured survey results showed that 88% of restaurant participants had an increase in food sales and 71% of restaurants had an increase in beverage sales during DASIT.
- 34% of DASIT patrons paired their meals with suggested BC VQA Wines and/or BC Craft Brewer Product.
With funding from western diversification, WGBC continued to promote BC wine and food through Corus Entertainment and the Globe and Mail. WGBC edited two videos to best reflect the current times and they aired on Food Network and other Corus channels. They received 15.5 million impressions. WGBC was also approved for an ongoing PSA that will continue to air through April and May.
The Q4 period demonstrated a range of dynamic content that touched on several key themes; health and wellness, BC wine sales, Dine Out and Around activities, Explorer App incentives, February Valentines, and a special March feature on women working in the BC wine industry.
Q4 content delivered a fresh mix of branded visuals with inviting key messages, two social media giveaways, blog narratives, credible third-party influencer voices, paid online media partnerships, Facebook advertising and a variety of video narratives aimed at expanding audience reach and engagement.
The fourth quarter developed and executed over 650 pieces of high-quality digital marketing content across nine digital platforms targeting consumer, trade and industry. Additional content included contracted third-party influencers, paid media partnerships and branded banner ads and sponsored campaign articles.
Earned social media engagement increased 14% across Facebook and 6% across Twitter for Q4 and March saw a record gain on Instagram with a 141% engagement increase when compared to the same period last year.
Other highlights included popular influencer content including a yoga and wine feature from Olympic Gold Medalist Kelsey Serwa, a social media giveaway from Top Chef Canada celebrity Mijune Pak and a review on the Wines of BC Explorer App from Vancouver-based nutritionist Christina Chandra.
Overall online sentiment continues to be positive and supportive of a buy-local first message in what is an ever-challenging COVID-19 backdrop. Wines of British Columbia content remains sensitive to and respectful of COVID-19 regulations as per the directives of BC’s Provincial Health Officer.
Content Marketing snapshot:
Social Media Marketing
- For Q4 a total of 23 creative Facebook Ad Sets were developed reaching 966,201 people and earning 40,508 clicks. Post engagements totalled 819,032 at a cost per engagement of $0.54. See report.
- Solid results on Ad Set and particularly video engagement for February’s Valentine’s Day push. See Valentine’s Day Social Marketing report.
- A large health and wellness BC wine goals focus involved a substantial social marketing component. See report.
Influencer Marketing & User-Generated Content
- Q4 Influencer Marketing Campaigns featured Olympic Gold Medalist Kelsey Serwa, Top Chef Canada celebrity Mijune Pak and Vancouver-based nutritionist Christina Chandra. Estimated media value totalled $61,000 from 70 influencer posts reaching 91,800 people with 7,800 engagements earned. WGBC developed and negotiated three influencer contracts. See Campaign Klear report.
- New user-generated content (UGC) earned from followers using Wines of BC hashtags collected another 200 more digital assets using Crowdriff’s saved searches and hashtag rights automation system. New UGC website galleries and tourism-focused Instagram stories via the Stories Network were also developed over Q4.
- To celebrate International Women’s Day, Wines of BC partnered again with award-winning author Jennifer Schell to feature a two-part series that featured a total of 16 women from across nine BC wine regions over the month of March. The blog series earned record engagement for the WGBC Instagram with a total of 1,224 views and 27,955 engagements earned. Notably, only $900 was spent to push the series. See campaign report here.
- As part of Valentine’s focus in February, the Boutique Wines program promoted 10 BC VQA Wines through the month of February. Select wines were reviewed by professional wine author, teacher and sommelier Kurtis Kolt on the WGBC’s Taste & Terroir blog. The blog earned a total of 1,578 views throughout the Q4 period.
To review social media top posts and a summary of Q4 digital marketing analytics, click here.