By Xianrui Zeng¹, Armando Maria Corsi¹, Steve Goodman¹
Introduction and background
It is a consolidated fact that people have been spending an increasing amount of time online to know more about a brand before potentially making a purchase (Hollebeek & Macky, 2019). This behaviour is not only due to COVID-related challenges, but also to the uptake of mobile technology. To keep up with the trend, wineries have been looking at ways to improve the experiences customers have with their brand(s) through what the literature refers to as Digital Content Marketing (DCM). DCM is a long-reaching and low-cost strategic marketing approach to create and distribute valuable, relevant and consistent content to inform, to educate and to entertain customers without aggressive selling pitches (Content Marketing Institute, 2018). An example of DCM could be a winery uploading a video on its YouTube channel showing what food best matches its wines. In doing so, DCM improves consumers’ awareness towards the brand and the experience customers have with the brands; two factors, which ultimately lead to an increase in sales (Dwivedi et al., 2021; Lou & Xie, 2021). However, it is still unclear what content delivers the best returns for a winery, and whether brands adopting different positioning strategies (i.e. more commercially oriented or more premium) should consider developing different content material.
In order to fill this knowledge gap, we conducted a study in the first half of 2022. We started by conducting a pre-test on 25 Australian wine brands. For each of these brands, we asked respondents to check whether they were aware of the existence of the brand, and, if so, how they would score the brand on a commercial/prestige scale. The results showed us that Penfolds was considered as the most prestigious brand of the lot, whilst Yellowtail was considered the most commercial brand. Both brands recorded a similar level of awareness.
As videos are recognised as one of the most effective formats to carry multi-sensory content (Holliman & Rowley, 2014; Teixeira et al., 2012), we downloaded three videos from the official YouTube pages of each of the two brands. The selection of the videos was made to represent the three main types of content literature suggests a video could display: tutorial, brand campaign and consumer story (Lou & Xie, 2021).
The videos became part of an online survey, which we conducted in Australia in July/August 2022, through a professional panel provider. Survey participants had to be of legal drinking age (18 years old+), consume wine more than once per month and be aware of both brands. Together with a series of socio-demographic and psychographic questions, we asked participants to watch the three videos for each brand. After each set of three videos, we asked participants to express their judgment about the informative, entertainment, social and functional values the videos communicated about the brand, the experiential evaluation of the brand, their willingness-to-purchase the brand, and their willingness to spread a positive message about the brand.
We collected a total of 391 valid responses, with nearly equal audiences watching Yellowtail (n=194) and Penfolds (n=197). The sample distribution of age, gender, and state of residence was representative of the Australian wine drinking population.
Wineries face significant challenges in developing brand communication strategies in the modern digital era of information overload.
We analysed the causal relationships between the four values and the experiential evaluation of the brand, and then Word of Mouth (WOM) and purchase Intention as consequences. The result of the multi-group-analysis shows that all the hypotheses related to the influence of the values on the experiential evaluation of the brand can be accepted. In addition, a positive experiential evaluation of the brand leads to higher WOM and purchase intention. However, none of the hypotheses shows a statistically significant difference between the commercial and premium brand (see Table 1).
Regarding the four values affecting experience with wine brands, Table 1 showed that for both commercial and premium wine brands, entertainment value is the most important value accounting for brand experiences, followed by functional value, informative value, while social value is the least important value having limited impact on experiential evaluation.
Wineries face significant challenges in developing brand communication strategies in the modern digital era of information overload. This research provides a few critical messages for wineries’ DCM operation.
Firstly, given the importance of DCM in converting prospects into buying customers or promoters through engaging branded content (Hollebeek & Macky, 2019), wine marketers should be confident about adopting DCM as an existing and prospective customer relationship marketing tool to shape consumers’ brand experience, and ultimately trigger WOM and purchase intention. Unlike traditional media channels such as newspaper and television advertisements, DCM offers greater flexibility at a relatively low cost, allowing tremendous opportunities to reach a diverse and massive customer base.
… both commercial and premium wine brands could focus on the DCM values: entertainment value, functional value, informative value and social value, in order of priority.
Secondly, this study reveals that commercial and premium wine brands could embrace the same DCM strategies, due to no significant impact from brand prestige was found. This result empirically rejected the assumption that prestigious wine brands should produce more sophisticated content to engage with wine consumers; instead, both commercial and premium wine brands could focus on the DCM values: entertainment value, functional value, informative value and social value, in order of priority. This critical finding allows wine marketers flexibility in DCM operation without being constrained by brand prestige.
When creating content that carries entertainment value, wineries could allocate resources to produce exciting, enjoyable and relaxed video clips to ensure a pleasant brand experience. For example, Penfolds’ customer story video features a customer sharing a cheerful story about a bottle of back vintage Penfolds Grange, triggering audiences’ joyful feelings or memories. Furthermore, wineries should make an effort to improve the reliability of DCM channels to address functional value. In the digital world with exploded truth and misinformation, providing customers with a believable and trustworthy communication channel to get reliable information would significantly improve brand experiences. Many creative approaches could achieve it. For example, Penfolds consistently uploads videos onto their official YouTube channel with well-produced and formatted content, making this channel a go-to place for customers to shortcut the process of finding reliable information. In the same vein, the informative value could be addressed by including educational video clips. For instance, Yellowtail posts videos about how to make a Sangria cocktail by using a bottle of Yellowtail wine; Penfolds wine ambassador shows customers how to assess wine faults, glass and wine matching, and new vintage release tasting notes, etc. Notably, this content should not be too dry or “nerdy” to watch, otherwise it would diminish the most important value in the content: entertainment value.
Finally, although the perceived social value has the least correlation with consumers’ experiential evaluation, both low- and high- prestigious wine brands should consider creating content that facilitates conversation or relationships in consumers’ social networks. For example, Yellowtail initiated an online social event (i.e. Tastes Like Happy) to encourage consumers to celebrate and share everyday moments of joy with a bottle of Yellowtail.
¹Adelaide Business School, The University of Adelaide
Content Marketing Institute. (2018). What Is Content Marketing? https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/what-is-content-marketing/
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Holliman, G., & Rowley, J. (2014). Business to business digital content marketing: marketers’ perceptions of best practice. Journal of research in interactive marketing, 8(4), 269-293.
Lou, C., & Xie, Q. (2021). Something social, something entertaining? How digital content marketing augments consumer experience and brand loyalty. International Journal of advertising, 40(3), 376-402.
Teixeira, T., Wedel, M., & Pieters, R. (2012). Emotion-induced engagement in internet video advertisements. Journal of marketing research, 49(2), 144-159.