Should winemakers think like buyers?

With more than 6 000 wine labels on South African shelves, just how should wine producers get consumers’ attention? Tim Hutchinson, the chief executive of Douglas Green Bellingham, spoke to the retailers to find the answer.

At a recent information day held by VinPro, the wine farmers’ service organisation, Hutchinson told more than 500 grape farmers, winemakers, wholesalers and labour what he had found out.

Hutchinson says wine marketing is not rocket science, and the message should be simple and use a lot of common sense. Winemakers, the key elements of wine brands, must be visible and the trade should get to know them because selling wine is a people business.

Browsing through Tim Hutchinson’s presentation I came across these two little gems:

“Marketers & Producers need to spend more time in retail outlets at ‘the
rock face’. They have become blindfolded to the opportunities available. I
can count on my one hand the amount of marketers / producers that I have
seen in stores at peak periods”. Mark Norris, Ultra Liquors.

“South Africa is still lacking a clear consumer cue and we are not seeing the
numbers come through as we would have hoped. Innovative and consumer
friendly packaging is essential, but it’s no good having great wine if no one
takes it off shelf. South Africa producers still need to better understand the
UK consumer”. Graham Nash, Tesco.

Here’s my take on all of this:

Speaking to your “ real customers” (the end user or consumer) is an even better strategy. Ask them three simple questions:

  • Why did you purchase our product on this occasion?

  • Did our product meet your expectations?

  • If not, why not?

Asking the right questions can deliver data that can power business decisions. Use this information to your advantage when negotiating with buyers. Many Wine Estates have an unfair advantage as well – the tasting room.

Download the Vinpro Information Day Presentations.

Read “In search of the perfect question”.