Here’s the normal brand proposition, “Such and Such Family Vineyards is a family-owned and operated boutique winery making estate grown wines, located in this Appellation, [following organic / biodynamic / sustainable farming practices].” I absolutely understand why winegrowers use this phrase. It’s heart-felt, it’s authentic, it’s got the basis of terroir that is so important to premium wines, and family is the core of their life(style). I’ve been a cellar hand so I also understand how much people loath having to use chemicals and choose organics, they’re just nasty and cause all sorts of concern about your own and family health and safety. The issue with the normal wine brand proposition is that everyone else is using it. If there are 60,000 wine brands in the market, or 1000 wine brands on a retail store shelf, how is that proposition going to stand out?
Winery Marketing or Wine Brand Management has 8 steps. Once you have completed all of the steps you will know your target market, competitors, and company goals; your points of differentiation from your competitors; what your brand means to your customers; your marketing strategies; with an action plan with dates, responsibilities, and budget.
The steps are:
Step 1: Understand your customers
Step 2: Analyze your competitors
Step 3: Look at your company goals, personalities, and stories Step 4: Choose your niche
Step 5: Create or define your brand
Step 6: Review the marketing mix or 5 Ps
Step 7: Create your marketing plan
Step 8: Review
Traditional winery marketing thinking is that Wine Clubs are it. They should be the center of your marketing efforts. However I have a problem with relying on Wine Clubs. I think they are given far more weight than their worth. Wine Clubs are just another direct channels with all sorts of problems.
The argument for Wine Clubs goes a bit like this. They are a regular income stream, every year, from your customer fans. They give you their credit card details and agree to a future shipment often in exchange for access to discounts and perhaps an allocation of limited wine product. It is taken a bit further in that it is said that if you have a tasting room you should have be pushing people to sign up to your wine club as a KPI. In short every year I have a huge increase in stock that you need to get rid of. Sometimes you can only ship that stock outside of extreme weather. So Wine Clubs are ideal.
But wait, what about the Wine Consumer?
Three weeks ago we started doing research into which Wine Regional Marketing Organizations (RMO) are the best wine internet marketers. And it’s been fascinating. Some Wine RMOs do everything well, from SEO to Facebook to Twitter. Others really get one or two areas but not all. And some really struggle. We will be releasing a draft report soon to Wine RMOs to view, they should sign up here to get access to the video presentation available only for one week.
Very few premium wine brands can rely on their brand perception alone, most rely on regional perceptions to help them demand higher prices (Grange being one exception). Arguably the most important tool for increasing the regional quality perception is the Wine Regional Marketing Organization (RMO). I’ve started to research which Wine RMOs are most effectively promoting their region through the internet. The idea is to help the struggling under-resourced Wine RMO marketer identify best practice and make the case for greater resources. Here is my approach.
Pinot Noir NZ 2013 was a superb conference that focused on the winegrowers. A few days in though there were starting to be rumblings about two things:
1) that profitability was not being discussed, “the elephant in the room” to quote Alastair Maling MW on Day 4
2) that no one was talking about what the wine drinker wanted “Oh the consumer word, everyone is dumbstruck” said Jane Skilton MW on Day 3.
Even Matt Kramer (Wine Spectator) on Day 3 was saying “we are drinking the dream, not the wine” (at which stage a winemaker behind me found he had a blocked throat). Matt went on further to say, “Above $20 a bottle we’re no longer selling wine, we’re in love with the dream”. He went on to explain how well the French had sold Burgundy as “beautiful, sweet, little stone houses, cellars, fine wine … it is a wonderful dream”.
Perhaps the next conference can have a little more about margins and consumers? Sure, keep the wine growing and making focus but perhaps provide some possible paths to winery profitability and communicating with wine drinkers.
I suggest Pinot Noir 2016 takes advantage of technology. It simulcasts live and allow immediate downloads of keynotes. Add in Twitter and forum chat and you have a conference that can be taken anywhere around the world.
Review your Wine Marketing Plan but in the short term stay the course! Consistency is more important for brand management given how long changing the perception of your brand in consumer minds takes.
Bringing together all the work from the other wine marketing steps into an illustrative marketing plan tailored for a particular winery for the wine segment Inspiring Businessman.
All your insights from analysing your customers, competitors and your company need to be put into an action plan – the Wine Marketing Plan
A customer’s image of a wine brand is prompted by some key drivers (the 5Ps or the marketing mix). Together they form a good basis for writing your marketing plan.
Communicate to wine drinkers in ways that are important to them as wine drinkers make brand decisions based off superficial criteria as well as the smell and taste of premium wine.
Choosing a wine niche is the way for a small vineyard or winery to be financially successful. A niche which you market consistently well to, and has no strong competitors is the ideal.
What wine business story will appeal to your target consumers? If you’ve analyzed your customers and wine industry competitors, look internally to your company strengths. What stories can you tell that will appeal to one of these segments? Who are you most comfortable with marketing too?
Is your great wine being overwhelmed by stronger wine industry brands perhaps with a more comprehensive wine marketing programme? Most wine industry competitors are doing what everyone else does – they are trying to copy success. They’ve looked at what others are doing and may have also chosen a less sophisticated form of analyzing niches – e.g. women, Napa Valley, cool climate Pinot Noir. Indeed they will probably be doing no marketing at all (Wine Business Monthly 2006, of the 9300 wineries in the US fewer than 10 percent have clear marketing strategies). This post outlines how to (re)position your brand.
Wine Research tells us that great wine product is a start but not enough. It needs to appeal to customers in other non sensory ways, including some not well known. I present a wine market model with three segments most interested in premium wine.
An Overview of the Process of Marketing Wine with the end game being Greater Profits. In a nutshell this category of the mylocalwinestore.com provides information on marketing wine through “niche marketing”. Follow the professional marketing process outlined in this overview section to boost prices, margins and/or volume. I’m assuming that you have already created, or are in the process of creating, a high quality wine. Long term success in premium brand management is based on this foundation. Some brands may get away with hype for a while but they will eventually be found out. High quality wine is the price of admission of building a premium wine brand. After you’ve created great wine, professional brand management will help turn your hard work into business success.