How This Company Is Using Social Media To Shake Up Malaysia's Wine Market

By Chong Seow Wei

Malaysia-based trading company Vyne takes a digital-first approach to reach a wider community of vinophiles

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The use of social media by the wine industry to raise brand awareness and boost sales is steadily increasing. In China, online shopping events featuring wine have taken off, with popular live streamers such as Li Jiaqi, who has over 40 million followers on TikTok, reportedly selling more than 100,000 bottles of locally produced wine within 30 seconds of his live stream session in 2019. In the US, a survey found that 40 percent of regular wine drinkers say they trust social media for wine information and recommendations. In Malaysia, one company is working to normalise the use of social media and e-commerce by consumers and retailers.

Vyne has fully embraced a digital-first business model. According to its founder Kit Kuan, this approach is “the best way for us to express our brand personality and culture”. 

A key customer touchpoint of the company is its website, where it retails a diversity of both niche and classic wines from all over the world. It also serves to educate beginners about wine; a palate quiz helps new drinkers to discover wines that match their taste buds, while informative guides help them to understand the beverage, varietals and industry better.

On social media, the company appeals to younger consumers through content that is “shareable and relatable to our everyday lives,” says Kuan. “We utilise the effect that social media has on consumers and try to keep up with the latest trends and strategically incorporate wine into the mix.” This includes the use of memes, gifs and creatively designed posts in millennial and Gen Z colours.

When Kuan started Vyne in 2018, he was already familiar with the workings of social media. He had been running his own Instagram account, TummyTalk, where he worked with a number of brands to share insights and reviews about the food and restaurants in Malaysia. “To me, social media has always been a medium to interact and share my life with other people, and [in turn for them] to share theirs too.”

Having only an online presence has its challenges, however—the biggest being the lower rates of organic traffic. “As much as we love shopping on websites and through social media, there’s a large portion of consumers who still prefer the physical retail shopping experience and getting the one-on-one service from a retail staff,” says Kuan. He adds that Vyne is looking for ways to overcome this and provide a similar level of service that customers would get when they visit a physical store. “That’s why we’re currently focusing heavily on social media marketing, to build trust with our consumers.”

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Above  Kit Kuan, founder of Vyne

As a relatively young business, iterating and experimenting with its methods is still very much in Vyne’s blood. “Sometimes we get great responses [on social media], other times not so much, but that’s where we learn as a growing business,” says Kuan. “You win some, you lose some.”

He already sees a shift in the wine world, as consumers rely on the internet more than ever for information. “Consumers naturally become more exposed and curious to try new things, and we find this happening in the wine industry as well.” 

Eventually, Kuan has plans to set up a subscription service for Vyne, and possibly a physical retail store. For now, he is focused on growing the company’s wine portfolio and delivery coverage, which recently expanded to include the rest of West Malaysia. Wine tastings and events will remain a big driver for Vyne as well, as it moves forward in achieving Kuan’s goal of making every consumer’s wine journey a fun discovery.

Read more about Vyne.

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