Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Time to Change the Business Model

I recently came across a quote which not only represents a basic marketing principle but a quote which can be applied to the wine industry: “Selling to people who actually want to hear from you is more effective than interrupting strangers who don't.”- Seth Godin.

From my experience in the fine wine industry I can not express how important this quote is, especially during this challenging economic time. Consumers are having more and more difficulty justifying a purchase of a $35 (or more) bottle of wine. I have extensive tasting room experience and have seen again and again how companies become so number focused. I agree that the bottom line drives a lot of action or in-action in some cases. But what essentially sells wine is a story. Unless the company and the people working for that company can truly identify with the story and message, I have a hard time believing some brands will succeed. More importantly, during this economic time, I think it is important to drop prices and make wine more accessible to the masses. I believe you can do this without losing brand loyalty. More young people are drinking wine and making it apart of their every day lives but spending $25 plus, does not make sense. I, like many wineries, would like to see wine become main stream in American culture. However, the tactics which wineries are currently taking may not be the answer. Resorting to gorilla marketing is not the answer. I think, during this economic time, wineries and merchants, should take this opportunity to re-direct the industry for the positive. For example, become a customer's "comfort wine." Just like mac and cheese is a comfort food, where are the wines to accompany?

Personally, I'm just sick of older generations writing off my generation in traditional wine industry snobbery. I believe the more you are willing to change and accommodate in addition to being creative and authentic is the key to success. Its time to see more authenticity and have less noses' in the air. It is one thing to have a passion for wine but where are all the smart business people driving the wine industry?

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