Just hitting the wires today from a Vinexpo seminar on breaking into the U.S. market is this Just-Drinks article by Andy Morton on Vinexpo presentation on breaking into the U.S. market.
At the end of the day it’s simply not enough to make a really great wine that sells like something twice its price. Maybe that was a tenable position 5 years ago, but now, it’s no longer unique, it’s ubiquitous.
In my seminars, lectures and consulting, I stress the point that suppliers have to have a POD that MAD…a Point of Difference that Makes a Difference. Competitively superior is not a long-term strategy, someone will always be able to up their game to beat you at yours. So the challenge is to develop a brand that is unique, not “better than…”
I think Mel Dick has made some really good comments in Andy’s piece:
“Nobody makes a bad wine”: Whenever I ask a producer who’s interested in coming into the U.S. what makes his wine different and special, I always get the same answer- “My wine is really good.” I agree with Mr. Dick, in that making good wine is necessary but no longer sufficient. The world is awash with really great wine. To distinguish a wine in a store today, suppliers must think about brand first.
“The old story of someone telling me, my wine sells for US$15 and in a blind tasting it tasted better than a $30 wine – that’s not the answer.” A really great wine that tastes better than its price is no longer a competitive advantage. It’s expected.
“I think about the name. And quite often I suggest to the supplier how we can tweak it to make it more presentable.”
Remember, this is coming from a distributor not an importer. Wineries have to expect they’ll get strong and unsolicited recommendations from both levels to change things. So recognize it’s a collaborative process to balance maintaining the integrity of the brand as the producer developed it, and whatever changes are suggested by your U.S. partners.