Most wineries don’t pursue sustainability certification for marketing purposes. But, an increasing number of studies shows both consumers and trade value environmental stewardship and use this information in their wine purchasing and sales decisions.
Today, we find the end consumer has a greater degree of interest in knowing that the wine they buy is both grown and produced in a sustainable manner. For our 2016 vintage, we have added the Napa Green logo to our back label to help convey that message.
Sustainability can help differentiate your wine and serve as a tiebreaker on the shelf. In one of their key Canadian markets, Jackson Family Wines recently tested the correlation between advertising their environmental commitment and sales. The result? A 19 percent sales increase simply by using bottleneckers with sustainability information. A 2017 study from Cone Communications offers additional support: of 1,000 U.S. consumers surveyed, 89 percent said they would switch to a brand associated with a good cause given similar price and quality.
When a company supports a social or environmental issue, 92 percent of consumers say they have a more positive image of the company; 87 percent are more likely to trust the company; and 88 percent say they would be more loyal to the company.
In 2016, Wine Opinions surveyed 457 retailers, wholesalers, distributors and importers. More than 70 percent said that sustainable practices often or sometimes served as a factor in choosing a wine to market or sell to customers. When asked why, 72 percent said there is increased demand for sustainably produced wines; 71 percent said they personally care about sustainable or environmental attributes of wines; and 67 percent said sustainable production is a useful selling feature or attribute of the wine.
One of the main benefits of Napa Green certification is the opportunity to have a new conversation with consumers. Many wineries have similar stories about unique soils, vineyard microclimates, terroir. Napa Green certification provides new positioning, new engagement, new stories for visitors that can help a winery standout and serve as an added incentive to join the wine club.
There is also growing evidence that wine consumers are willing to pay a premium for sustainable products. A 2015 Nielsen Global CSR study found that more than 70 percent of millennials and 50 percent of baby boomers were willing to pay more for a socially or environmentally responsible product. In 2017, Sonoma State University surveyed 300 wine consumers and the majority indicated they would pay $1-3 more for a bottle of certified sustainable, organic or Biodynamic wine. Notably, economists at Washington State University recently analyzed 45,000 red wine ratings by Wine Spectator from 1989 to 2014 and found that Napa Green certified wines demanded a price premium of $4.40 a bottle.
Consumers can’t respond to information they don’t have. The 2017 Cone Communications study notes, “Although consumers unequivocally stand ready to reward companies for their responsibility efforts, they need to hear about it first.” The 2016 Wine Opinions trade survey found that the top obstacles to selling more sustainably produced wines were lack of understanding and familiarity by consumers and wines are hard to identify or not clearly labeled. Meanwhile, respondents said the most effective way to promote certification was through clear and highly visible labeling or identification on the wine. Certified members of the Napa Green program can use the Napa Green Winery logo on the labels of wines made in certified wineries and can use the Napa Green Land logo if 95 percent of the grapes in the bottle were grown in Napa Green certified vineyards.
St. Supéry is very proud to be both Napa Green Certified Land and Winery. It’s definitely a marketing point. We display the logos on the back of all our bottles and talk about the certification in every presentation. At every tasting, people notice the logos and ask, ‘What does Napa Green mean?’ They want to know about the third-party certification. It is important to the consumer.