Caro Jensen, co-founder of Sip NZ and drinkfo.com, shares tips on how New Zealand liquor producers can stay in touch with export markets during the current global pandemic…

During this time of year, winemakers and sales teams are usually on the road to sell the fruit of a year’s hard labour – dining and wining in the warm Northern Hemisphere with the ‘who’s who’ of the international wine trade.

Come summer, these wineries – plus the country’s large number of distilleries and breweries – will start to miss out on trade and media visits and the opportunity to show off their products and our beautiful backyard.

These memorable Kiwi experiences are an important part of creating close business relationships, especially when markets are as far away as ours.

So, what’s plan B? How can liquor business in New Zealand connect with global distributors, buyers and media during these challenging times?

  1. Send an experience, not just samples

Send New Zealand-made products alongside your wine, beer or spirit samples that bring the Kiwi experience to life. A personalised piece of iconic Kiwi clothing, non-perishable food or symbolic souvenir might just get the attention ahead of other sample packages from around the world. Team-up with other iconic Kiwi brands to create creative collaborations.

  1. Slide into their DMs

Inboxes are most likely still exploding with Zoom meeting and live tasting invites. Connect to your market via social media, such as Instagram and Facebook, and professional networks such as Linked In, and engage with them. Be ‘social’, have a chat, share an update on you and your business and check in to see if they, their family and friends are ok.

  1. Create exclusive and intimate events

Team up with other wineries, distilleries or breweries in your region and create intimate in-market events (following COVID-19 regulations, of course) showcasing your products as a collective. While big trade shows are off the agenda, trade and media will still be keen to escape their bubble for a catch-up with industry professionals.

  1. Capture our backyard

If they can’t come to you, transport them to New Zealand via engaging and personalised digital experiences such as augmented reality, vlogs, time-lapses or projections.

  1. Do their job

Provide ready-to-publish unique pitches and high-quality images and video material to foster media relations. Journalists who have visited New Zealand before and already have a relationship with you would greatly appreciate updated regional and vintage-specific content to support their reviews.

  1. Be generous!

Check previous accounts and utilise your entertainment and market visit budget for innovative initiatives. Shout key partners a weekend away, get a chef to turn up at their office, record a team haka, finally produce and send those small format bottles. Innovation and creativity thrive in a time of crisis – your craziest idea to date, might just be the ticket to success!

This article was originally published in the September issue of The Shout NZ, which can be read in full online here.

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