UK Fizz marketing English sparkling and British still wines

Marketing for Climate Change: Adding sparkle to sustainability.

While it is still the case that typing “net zero sparkling wine” into a search engine will return results that focus on minimal alcohol content rather than carbon footprint, the sustainability trend is catching on. And even though “toast” is something we look for in our sparkling wines, it’s not something we want for our planet. So why is sustainability so important to the future of British wine, and wine marketing, and what does it mean for you?

“There is a drive among British vineyards and wineries to begin (and continue) to incorporate more sustainable practices, from farming to production, to bottling and distribution”

 – So who is “getting it right”?

Marketing for Climate Change- Adding sparkle to sustainability.It’s safe to say that sustainability is catching on, not just in the wine industry, but everywhere, and methods for organic farming, waste and emission reduction, and supporting local are not just responsible shifts – they are trendy ones. Research suggests that climate change has had significant effects on the wine industry and growing practices, including increased disease and damage and decreased production. In the Champagne region, there has been a 26% decrease in yields due to a combination of “climate hazards, ageing vines, and increased overall temperature.” Climate change is not only a problem for growing wine but also for selling it. Indeed, as a recent podcast by the global analytics firm Nielsen reports, up to 73% of consumers have considered changing their buying habits because of climate change.

Thankfully, there are many leading the way – and in turn making sustainable wines easier to sell. In material terms alone, the wide use of cork rather than screw caps in a region producing primarily sparkling wine makes packaging more biodegradable. But efforts are ramping up on a much larger scale as well. In Champagne, some of the major houses are now incorporating sustainability into their corporate strategies, including Moet and Chandon, Tattinger, and Telmont, among others, not only using organic pesticides and more eco-friendly tilling in the vineyards, but also voluntarily amassing their “green credentials” and making this known to consumers. On the UK side, we seem to be the odd beneficiaries of a warming planet – at least for wine…and for now. UK terroir, just as it is uniquely equipped for growing grapes for sparkling wine, is also somewhat untouched by the worst of climate consequences. Vineyards will always be risky and precarious business. Still, longer and cooler growing conditions in Britain allow for a more steady ripening of grapes and a greater ability to avoid interventions that may be damaging, both to the pinot and to the planet. In England we are experiencing something similar to what French climate was like a few decades ago, when the effects of climate change and rising temperatures were not as severe. You could say that the UK sparkling industry has profited from climate change, but such benefits also present rich responsibilities – to be proactive, pioneering, and ambitious in our sustainability goals.

So who is “getting it right” in the English market? There is a drive among British vineyards and wineries to begin (and continue) to incorporate more sustainable practices, from farming to production, to bottling and distribution, which include (but are not limited to):

  • Natural growing methods: This might mean encouraging vineyard biodiversity by welcoming bees and butterflies to boost pollination, biodynamic farming, rainwater harvesting, hand-picking grapes, or the switch to organic fertilisers.
  • On the crush pad: Solar energy is being introduced more and more, not just to keep the lights on, but to power machinery and minimise the need for fuel. In sparkling production in particular, using steel rather than oak for most of the ageing process is an additional climate-saving measure. While oak needs to be replaced every three to five vintages, steel is far more durable, making steel more sustainable and cost-effective. Finally, gravity flow methods are increasingly being built into crush, improving the quality and texture of wine (especially those marketed as low-intervention), minimising oxidation, and reducing electricity consumption.
  • Bottling and distribution: Recyclable glass bottles and packaging are just the beginning of efforts to make bottling more climate-friendly. Lighter glass weights, biodegradable corks and labels, and minimal travel time are key initiatives, focusing on local markets and cellar door sales. While these efforts might seem common sense and basic, packaging and shipping account for a significant 42% of a bottle’s carbon footprint, making such changes easy to implement but incredibly impactful.

We see several English wineries doing fantastic work in this space, including Balfour Winery, Albury Estate, Gusborne, Henners Vineyard, and Yotes Court. Most have statements on their websites outlining their approach to climate change, and several are founding members of Sustainable Wines of Great Britain – a community that will undoubtedly continue to grow. If you’d like to be featured on future lists like this, or are looking to scale up your sustainability branding, give us a call.

Marketing for Climate Change- Adding sparkle to sustainability.What, then, does this mean for marketing?

  1. Consumers are more than ever driven by their values – for many this means choosing to support brands (even at higher cost) that reflect and align with their own sustainability practice, and with wineries that lead or pioneer efforts across the industry.
  2. While world-class wine is still critical, marketing strategies must adapt to accommodate the shift from a quality-based consumer psychology to a values-based one, where wine drinkers align their personal belief systems with their food and wine preferences and choose brands that follow suit.
  3. Marketing for the sparkling wine industry need not bury the lede on sustainability but should, instead, make such efforts central to brand recognition and loyalty.
  4. At the same time, marketing sustainable wines is an opportunity to educate consumers on climate-friendly practices that will increase interest in the UK industry as a whole. This is especially important in marketing to new demographics; wineries viewed as innovators or instigators of change will be especially popular among emerging generations of sparkling wine drinkers.
  5. Buying locally can still be scalable! Now, the “buy British” mantra makes sense – not only as a response to globalisation, Brexit, and employment insecurity, but to climate justice as well.
  6. Embracing digital marketing methods not only expands reach but lowers our carbon footprint. Reducing print advertising and costly packaging campaigns can enhance your sustainability message without sacrificing your bottom line.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch to talk to us about new methods to market your products that don’t negatively affect the environment and establish your brand as a leader in sustainability efforts.

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