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Experientials – Building the Brand while you Educate the Wine Buyers

In her distinctive research paper, Caitlin Moore – a Bachelor of Science major from California Polytechnic State University, described her findings as she set out to study how special events influence a wine buyer’s decision. Events like these use experiential marketing to raise awareness, build relationships and somewhat excite potential buyers with the ‘wine lifestyle’ that comes with it. By inviting the consumers to such an intimate retreat, the participants really get to taste wines from various regions with the intended outcome of having the guests purchase at least a bottle of wine either during the event or long after they returned home. Caitlin’s study conclusion indicates that such invitations are highly influential on buying decisions, more so when it comes to the experiential bit including tours and tastings which give wine lovers an experience hosted by top wine importers, sommeliers and connoisseurs of fine wines.

Racking up some statistics, a report dubbed Wine in Kenya by Euromonitor Int. details wine consumption rising to 25 million litres with a value of KES85.1 billion with forecasts expected to rise to 29 million by the year 2023. This, coupled with the rise of experiential wine hot spots such as Wine Life Kenya, Wine Tails Hacienda and The Wine Shop among others, just goes to show that the Kenyan Wine industry is just getting started. Other factors fuelling the industry’s growth may include emerging trends such as health and wellness alcohol; canned wine (Kenya); adoption of new digital and AI technology innovations in the wineries and much more.

Sommelier Ian Ndungu displaying his new wine collection at a wine tasting event in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Experience

At a recent wine tasting hosted by The Wine Life Kenya located in the upmarket Girgiri area, guests could be seen driving in from 5.30pm in a rush to get the best spot to settle in and wait for the host to begin (mostly at 6pm sharp). Usually entrance is free but lately the organisers opted to charge Ksh 500 per person to help them limit the crowd to a sizeable lot while still adhering to the new covid rules. The wine sommelier of the day (Silas Ngungu) kicks off the session away by greeting the guests and makes sure that all attendees have been handed tasting wine glasses.

Lessons are subject to the laid out itinerary but generally wine experts cover the make of the wine, origin, why it tastes how it tastes, types of wine glass to use, how to prepare your palate and understand the wine maker. They are very interactive and guests are encouraged to be as social as possible. “The experience is key when it comes to wine, your choice is influenced by your taste,” Sommelier Ian Ndungu said when he gave The Wine Story his views on the current wine tasting fad in Kenya.

Sommelier Silas Ndungu takes guests through a wine tasting session at The Wine Life Kenya, Nairobi.

Following the recent trends, with players in the wine-tasting space required to limit capacity in their tasting rooms, virtual wine tasting has also become an important tool in online wine events and webinars and masterclasses. It is expected that this will continue well past the pandemic.

Bottles used in the wine tasting: Beynat 2019 Sauvignon and Floyd by Beynat Malbec imported by Decanter ltd Kenya.

If you liked this article, you might like this one as well: Wine in a Can Stuns Mombasa at WOSA

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