Sydney-based Entertainment Group, a company whose discount coupon books were a common feature in Australian households in the 90s and early 2000s, has teamed up with a startup co-founded by prominent wine critic James Halliday to develop a direct-to-consumer (DTC) wine marketplace.
Junovate, co-founded by Halliday and Joval Wine Group's former GM digital Judy Pridmore, has linked up with the group with plans to launch Entertainment Wine Community in early 2022.
The marketplace facilitates sales to go directly through the winery with no upfront costs, providing access to Entertainment's audience of more than 700,000 customers.
"The wine industry has faced numerous challenges in recent years, from droughts, bushfires and the pandemic," says Halliday.
"The smaller wineries particularly are keen to grow their DTC audience, so now is really the time to get behind them. Over the past 18 months, we have been working to support wineries by encouraging wine lovers to buy direct through our Cellardoor Challenge initiative, so joining with Entertainment Group to reach their customer base allows us to build on our efforts.
"We both share an ethos to support local and the community, and we’re excited to bring wineries and wine lovers together through this partnership."
Entertainment Group’s CTO, and incoming CEO, Ani Chakraborty says the group has established itself as one of the country’s most innovative programs connecting local businesses with communities and consumers.
"It’s no secret Australia is home to some of the world’s best wine, so we are thrilled to be launching Entertainment Wine Community to showcase the full breadth of what the industry has to offer," Chakraborty says.
"This unique new marketplace is a place where our wine lovers and wineries will meet, sharing amazing Australian wines, and great experiences."
According to industry body Wine Australia, local wineries saw a 23 per cent decrease in the number of visitors to their cellar doors over the past 18 months, although DTC channels outperformed all other sales channels and increased profitability with a higher average sales value.
The body's latest DTC report last month found there was an 18 percent growth in wine sales value and 5 percent increase in volume in the past year via DTC channels.
While the marketplace is still seeking out more participating wineries ahead of next year's launch, the early feedback has been encouraging for the initiative.
"The Entertainment Wine Community’s (EWC) marketplace will be welcomed by the wine industry, as a connection with a special group of customers who love food, wine and travel," says Barossa-based Schild Estate Wines CEO Sue Henderson.
"Customers are crying out for real engagement with wineries and we’re excited there’s an innovative new platform to connect us all while not losing touch of our shared interests of quality wine and life experiences.
"We look forward to welcoming those customers to Schild virtually through EWC as well as in person to spend when they’re able to visit us in the Barossa."
Henderson's sentiments are echoed by Patrick Corbett, co-founder and director of Singlefile Wines in Denmark, WA.
"As a boutique winery in the remote region of the Great Southern in Western Australia, we are excited to learn how we can tell our story and showcase our wines to a whole new audience through this Entertainment Wine Community’s new DTC marketplace," Corbett says.
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