In mid-March, Argentina imposed a strict nation-wide lockdown. “Only supermarkets, grocery stores and pharmacies are open. Bars, pubs, restaurants, even banks, have shuttered their doors,” remarks Luciano Anavi, IWSR Senior Analyst for Latin America, who lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“I was already in a 2-week isolation period when the government ordered the country’s lockdown. There is a fear of riots and looting potentially erupting; we already have a lot of police and other branches of the armed forces patrolling the streets. People are only allowed to leave their house for trips to the grocery store or the pharmacy. A hotline has been set up for members of the public to report those who break the rules of the lockdown. Prison sentences and fines are being issued to those in violation,” comments Anavi.
The demand for alcohol is evident, with increased sales of wine and beer in supermarkets and via supermarket ecommerce offerings. “Mainstream brands seem to be in higher demand, while premium-end beverage alcohol products, unsurprisingly, are not as appealing to most consumers during the current economic uncertainty. Super premium brands will likely still appeal to those with the disposable income and existing affinity for the products,” adds Anavi.
As a major wine producing country, many of Anavi’s local contacts who own vineyards say that they are not too worried about their export business. “The main consumption countries will likely still be demanding Argentinean wine for at-home consumption,” highlights Anavi. The biggest threat to local winemakers is that they are now entering the key wine harvest and production season, and their main concern is for none of their workers to fall ill.
Instagram stands out as a useful platform for the industry. Wholesalers, who traditionally have a B2B business, are now trying to reach out to the end consumer directly, with Instagram a popular platform for targeting new audiences.
Instagram is also key for many brand owners and on-premise operators to remain relevant and engaged with their consumers. HorecaCity, a mobile application designed for hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars and breweries to purchase alcoholic beverages and related products, is focused on supporting its partner community through Instagram as well. Using the social media platform, HorecaCity’s customers promote special drinks offers via QR codes that can then be redeemed through the app. Consumers are encouraged to pre-purchase beverages that can then be consumed on-premise once the lockdown ends. On-premise operators are offering deals such as 2-for-1 promotions via the QR codes to help sustain the business through the pandemic.
Other apps are stepping up to support the local economy and community as well. Wabi, for example, allows consumers to place an order for their regular grocery list via the Wabi application. Wabi then sends an alert to stores within proximity of the consumer’s location. A store that has the stock to fulfil the order accepts the Wabi alert and is then responsible for delivering it to the consumer’s home. “This is especially useful for people who aren’t able to visit supermarkets or obtain an online delivery slot,” comments Anavi.
Like in other countries, Argentine consumers are also turning to virtual happy hours to stay connected with friends and family.
“The industry is doing its best to navigate the current situation and ensure survival through the pandemic. Smaller players, especially, will need to be innovative in their approach for keeping demand going through the situation,” notes Anavi.
Do you have a question for Luciano? If you’d like to ask Luciano Anavi a question about the current situation in Argentina, or in another Latin American country, please email your question to: serina.aswani (@) theiwsr.com
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