• Lea Gatinois

TOURISM AND ECO-INNOVATION IN THE WINE INDUSTRY

As part of my Master in Wine & Spirits Management at Kedge Business School, I recently wrote a thesis linking eco-innovation and tourism in the wine industry. Do tourists pay attention to some environmental activities more than others when they visit a winery? How are wineries engaged in the environment? Does this engagement match tourists expectations?


Of course, the paper is quite long, so here is a summary of the insights I found.


Vine in Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Context

The emergence of concepts such as green economy or sustainable economy over the past years slowly impacts all industries, especially in developed countries such as France. Populations are more and more conscious and sensitive to environmental issues and they want to reduce their impact on the ecosystem. They have easier access to information through the development of internet and social media and proactively look for details on the products and services they consume. In competitive industries, such as the wine industry, companies therefore need to innovate to match increasing environmental expectations if they want to prosper.


Simultaneously, the rise of wine tourism offers new opportunities for wine businesses to generate profit and interact with their consumers. That is why it is important for managers of wine businesses to know and understand customers’ expectations, including their rising environmental concerns. The wisest wine businesses would therefore incorporate wine tourism to their strategy and constantly innovate to stay at the forefront of the industry.


The study provides insights on eco-innovation and tourism in the French wine landscapes. I have analysed the activities of 306 wineries and the answers of 338 potential European visitors.


What is eco-innovation?

Innovation refers to two concepts: ecology – the preservation and respect of the environment – and innovation – defined as the implementation of a new or significantly improved good, service or process in an organisation –.


Categories of eco-innovation studied

  • Organic wine development

  • Biodiversity enhancement

  • Sustainable use of energy, renewable energy

  • Reduction of CO2 emission

  • Respectful packaging

  • Waste management

Domaine de Chevalier, Pessac-Léognan

Wineries engagement

Type (small vs. big), management (familial vs. corporate) and philosophy (traditional vs. modern) of a winery don’t have an influence on the degree of eco-innovation of a winery, except for eco-innovation made for the organic wine production, where modern wineries are more advanced than traditional wineries. It has been concluded that wineries promote at different degrees each category of eco-innovation.


The two most important eco-innovation categories developed and promoted are:

  • Biodiversity enhancement

  • Organic wine development


Moreover, it is confirmed that wineries welcoming tourists are more engaged in eco-innovation than wineries not open to tourism.


Visitors expectations

As regard to visitors, generation and gender do not influence the eco-innovation expectations of a visitor. The only exception is for innovations in waste management, where women have higher expectations than men. I have also found that the degree of wine interest and degree of eco-innovation expectations are not correlated, except in the case of eco-innovations impacting biodiversity enhancement, where a positive correlation has been found.


Finally, visitors do consider the two following eco-innovation categories more important than others:

  • Waste management

  • Biodiversity enhancement


Conclusion

Wine visitors and winery managers do not give the same importance to each category of eco-innovation. On one side, wine managers could develop eco-innovations important for wine visitors and use it as a marketing asset. On the other side, given the priority of more environmentally conscious wine growing and winemaking activities, wineries should prioritise activities that reduce their environmental impact as much as possible - while remaining economically viable - and then communicate to wine tourists the reasons of their choices. This will educate consumers and will lead to the evolution of the ranking previously cited.


Any opinion on the subject? Please share your thoughts!

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