As a wine and spirits brand development agency, we are regularly approached by export managers from all over the world to discuss their goals for the U.S. market. Typically the conversation is with respect to sales targets, wholesale channels, potential retail outlets and the like. Lots of effort goes into the pricing and discount discussion as well. All good conversations until they encounter the wall known as "integrated marketing communications", which is an essential component of successful brand development today. Numerous domestic wineries face similar issues on this front, and despite market knowledge, often fail to act accordingly.
With pressures on margins and extensive competition for mind and market share, it is always important to weigh all risk factors. From a market perspective, the greatest risk for the wine sector is inertia and maintaining that the old tactics of wine sales can actually still work today. Why fix something that isn't (completely) broken (yet)?
Positioning, Product, Package, Price, Public Relations. Without developing each of the components and aligning them while executing consistently, a wine's brand value simply will not deliver. Even if a winery manages the first 4 P's, there is a tendency to drop off on PR, which results in a clear opportunity cost.
While Direct To Consumer (DTC) is all the rage for domestic wineries, it is baffling that PR/Social Media is so often underutilized in brand development. It is even more surprising to see that happen with U.S. wineries because DTC would especially benefit from elevated communications. With comments such as "we are up 4% since last year this time without doing anything different", there is a level of laid back satisfaction without consideration for what is truly achievable. Sending out one more email blast is very often as good as it gets.
It is time to rethink what is possible and build systematic value for wine brands.
About the Author: FMG's CEO Monika Elling started her career in New York's advertising and publishing sector, which led to nearly a decade of international trade and investment promotion activity. She entered the wine and spirits industry in 2000, and has spent the last 17 years on the supply, import and wholesale sides of the business, previously as PR Director of the Lauber Imports Division of Southern Wines and Spirits.