It is surprising — in the era of digital communications, social media and bloggers — to see how little attention wineries and wine promotional bodies actually pay to communicating in local languages. Sure, it’s not always easy to find resources to manage multi-lingual content and activities, but just thinking about the advantages it brings makes it clear: communicating locally and in local language is a must if you want to grow your business.
One would say: why would I invest my time and budgets into tasks that are perfectly (or, at least, fairly well) managed by my wine importer or distributor? Well, let me walk you through just 6 considerations.
1. Wider coverage: Russian is spoken all around in the Eastern countries
Sometimes exporters don’t get it: Russian language is the official state language of several countries with growing wine culture. Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, the Baltic countries, Tajikistan, even Georgia — all use Russian language — some, as official language, others as historical part of culture. Russian-language communications will go across border, especially, if managed correctly. Wineries that have enough muscle to manage different markets will certainly benefit from singular information flow.
2. Russians speakers don’t really engage with English
Talking to Russian sommeliers and trade might give you an impression that everybody can speak English here. For example, the winery is already running a global communication hub for international consumers, probably, in English. Will that be enough for Russian speakers? Let me break it out to you: even big cities’ professionals prefer mother tongue — to share, comment and engage. You are not going to get any substantial engagement from non-Russian communications, period.
3. Being INsider, not OUTsider
It’s not only about speaking Russian, it’s also communicating from within the Russian realities. Being outside and trying to be sociable won’t work here — creating content, that is local to local people, is essential for any wine brand. Despite the borders between Russian-speaking countries, we more or less feel the brotherhood and the same continuity to our cultures. Seeing a Kazakhstan sommelier talking about a wine bottle generates much more response than about any “western” national. Maybe it’s a matter of cultural closeness, language unity or something else.
4. More loyalty
You can’t really engage with wine drinkers unless you’re visiting your markets. It’s a kind of respect to people who drink your product. Gone are the days when winemakers could sit calmly at home and hope to sell the wines 5,000 km away. Same goes to communications. Talking in the language of your consumer is a part of basic respect and positive attitude. People who try to speak Russian get more sympathy than those who live here without taking any notice of the surrounding culture. In other words — Russian language generates more loyalty and trust to the brand before you even start producing the whole sentences. Professionals, too, might perceive your brand as big and faceless — unless they have a chance to meet you in person.
5. Better understanding of local markets with better feedback
Last but not least: will it surprise anyone if you start understanding the market better when you communicate in the local language? Your feedbacks will be realistic, your sales will consequently grow at another pace, your experience with the Russian-speaking markets will eventually go level up. What do these people want? What do they feel when they drink your wines? How should you adapt your international strategy to Russian-related markers? Those will be the questions you will probably get the answers to — and pretty quickly.
6. Using promotional materials across different markets
Of course, it’s when the economy of scale kicks in. Once translated all your information into Russian you can freely use it for a dozen of different markets — be it wines’ technical sheers, historic overview, news and presentations. Does this mean you have to constantly manage the Russian language information flow? Yes. Does it require substantial amount of work? Well, it depends on your managerial skills. In my humble opinion pushing the same international content to 50 different markets is a waste of time.