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Generics respond to the pandemic: Wines of Portugal

Published:  24 April, 2020

In the seventh of our series on responses by the generics to the Covid-19 pandemic, Andrew Catchpole talks to Jorge Monteiro, president, Wines of Portugal

What does work look like during lockdown?

Each Wines of Portugal's employee is at home using the home office platform, with constant meetings. We are mainly working on revising the promotional plan and the budgets and negotiating with our partners [as to] the impacts of postponing and canceling events in each market.

We are also promoting some internal training, either to keep the team active and cohesive, or because we have to prepare for new work contexts, for which we were not prepared. It is time to reflect on new approaches to markets.

In terms of planned events, initiatives and campaigns, what have you shifted and to when?

Fortunately a good part of the Wines of Portugal plan in the UK took place before the state of emergency was declared - the annual tasting in London, with the participation of the Three Wine Men for the consumer part, and our presence at the Decanter Fine Wine Encounter Spain & Portugal event. These were the last two events with the presence of producers in which we were involved worldwide.

Currently, we continue to work and feed our social media channels and public relations in order to keep the Wines of Portugal brand present to the consumer.

As more than 60% of the Wines of Portugal plan had already been executed at the beginning of the year in the UK, we had only a few things left [such as] the consumer event, which was supposed to take place in May and is postponed to later in the year (no date yet).

We've also been quite reactive and created a social media campaign challenging some Wines of Portugal regular contributors, mainly journalists, to record a video at home, talking about a Portuguese wine they are enjoying, explaining about the regions, the grape varieties and traditions behind a specific label. So far Julia Harding MW, Sarah Ahmed, Charles Metcalfe, Tom Surgey and Oz Clarke have participated in our 'Stay safe, Stay home' campaign and we are waiting for a few more videos.

The idea behind this campaign is to keep the Wines of Portugal brand visible and convey a message of hope during confinement. We couldn't be happier with the enthusiasm of the various speakers who embraced this initiative, helping us to educate about Portuguese wines at a time when we have no obvious ways to reach the trade and consumers except by using the digital tools we've got.

What other initiatives or new strategies might we see as we emerge post lockdown?

Overall, we are reviewing the nature of the events to be carried out, but focused on identifying ways that can more effectively lead to a faster recovery of pre-crisis consumption levels and the recovery of exports that were stopped during the lockdown. Within this principle, we are reflecting on a greater concentration in a smaller number of markets, especially those that show greater post-crisis dynamics and/or those to which Portugal exports the most in value.

Do you foresee any changes with regard to how the producers you represent might approach this market post the pandemic?

It is too soon to evaluate. This pandemic may have profoundly changed consumption habits and, knowing that one of the changes may be the growth of the online channel, we don't know yet how the consumption in the on-trade vs the off-trade will vary. But this variation can influence communication strategies.

We are in permanent contact with our local partners in order to monitor the evolution of the situation and adapt in a timely manner to the new era we're living in.