Italy winemakers eye tweet sales with social media
By Svetlana Kovalyova
VERONA, Italy (Reuters) - Italian winemakers, usually wedded to centuries-old traditions, are slowly embracing Twitter, blogging and Facebook to boost sales that have been hit by the global economic crisis.
Italy, the world's second-biggest wine producer after France, saw export sales drop 6 percent to 3.5 billion euros in 2009 hit by the crisis and advancing competition from the "New World" wines, according to industry data.
"In the times of crisis it is important to experiment with new ways of making yourself known," Susanna Crociani of family owned Crociani, makers of full-body red Tuscan wine Nobile di Montepulciano (www.crociani.it) told Reuters.
Crociani, who says she was the first Italian winemaker to start a blog in 2004, said she has gained many new clients -- individual wine lovers, restaurant owners and professional buyers -- after launching a Facebook page. She has also started to use Twitter just a few months ago.
"An advantage of social media is that you don't have to pay (for making yourself known). You have to invest your time. But it pays off," Crociani said at Vinitaly wine trade fair.
Contacts through social media have boosted Crociani's online sales with the number of orders doubled to 50-60 a month, a considerable help for the small company which makes 60,000-70,000 bottles of wine a year, she said.
Facebook and Twitter, popular among the youth, are especially important in winning back young consumers who tend to favor beer or other drinks over wine, Crociani said.
Keeping with the new trend, consortium uniting makers of the famous Tuscan red Brunello di Montalcino (www.consorziobrunellodimontalcino.it), opened a Facebook page at the end of last year and now lists more than 10,000 fans. Continued...