||Asean Affairs 16 July 2013
Hotels, bars make promotions as wine demand is down
Nurfika Osman, The Jakarta Post
Wine has many business potentials in Indonesia, a nation with the world’s largest Muslim population, due to high demand from the tourism sector and the middle class groups that adopt urban lifestyle.
The consumption of wine in Indonesia has increased by 25 percent annually over the past five years, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
This figure has been attributed to the rapid expansion of the four and five star hotels as well as the growth in upscale restaurants and bars.
Renowned culinary expert William Wongso, former president of Jakarta International Food and Wine Society, said some Indonesians are willing to spend more than Rp 20 million (US$2,000) for only a liter of high-end French wine.
In addition, William said more people go into wine-food pairing with wine enthusiasts that normally take either white wine or rose wine to match with local cooking such as rendang (beef in spicy coconut milk).
During this Islamic fasting month of Ramadhan, however, the wine business is seeing serious downturn, forcing hotels and wine boutiques to aggressively offer promotion programs to compensate declining demand.
Vin+ Group marketing communications Keke Hidayat said the wine boutique will always introduce new products to its customers prior to and after the holy month.
“We have special programs such as introducing new products and actively promoting them to our customers in order to compensate the slowdown. We keep trying our best to exceed our monthly target [before and after Ramadhan]. That is the strategy that we always do to smooth the business,” Keke said.
Demands at the wine boutique, she said, significantly dropped by around 60 to 70 percent throughout the fasting month as customers stopped consuming the fermented grapes drink.
Besides promotions, Vin+ also provides loyal customers with ta’jil [snacks and beverages] throughout the holy month in an attempt to better serve and compliment them, Keke added.
The boutique offered a break-the-fast dinner package last year. But, they decided to stop offering this year because the market’s response was below target. “People still see Vin+ as a dedicated place for drinking wine, therefore, some customers are reluctant to break the fast here,” she said, adding that the firm was optimistic the ta’jil program would run well.
A similar case also happened to Churchill Bar, a wine and cigar lounge at the Hotel Borobudur in Central Jakarta. The hotel’s assistant public relations manager Anggi Giantury said demand for wine, whisky and cigars in the lounge seen a double-digit decrease.
“Thus, during this month, we made a more personal approach to our loyal non-Muslim customers to continue to enjoy their favorite wines and cigars. We are very proactive in promoting the [wine, whisky and cigar] products and we always provide the best quality [of products],” she said.
To lessen the impact from the slow liquor business, the lounge would also offer special programs and products in the second semester, particularly during the year-end holiday, to help increase its sales.
Another wine lounge that faces slower sales at the moment was Majapahit Lounge at The Dharmawangsa in South Jakarta.
However, the hotel public relations officer Anindhita Indira said the demand did not decrease significantly like other lounges because most of their customers are foreigners.
According to Dave Garciano, business development manager of Indowines, one of the country’s largest distributors, the number of wine drinkers in Indonesia is around 20 million today and the figure is projected to continue to increase in the future.