Winex 2007-I went to Winex this year for the 1st time not being directly involved in any wine buying on a retail scale. So I, like the majority of people there, went to Winex to taste some wine and to have a good time. Buying was not a priority. To the frustration of most winemakers, I would assume! What a bun fight to get to the Ernie Els!! And not because it is the one wine that all thinks is the best wine, but rather because of its price tag. Very few South Africans will buy wine at around R500 a bottle. They were not interested in how the wine was made, what was in the bottle or even to chat to the harassed wine maker, who just held out his arm and kept pouring until the wine ran out eventually!
Which begs the question, are wine shows of any benefit to the wine farm? Wine tasting samples are after all not free, and the table at the show is not free and the staff has to get paid and has be put up in suitable accommodation. All in all an expensive exercise for, what seems to be, very little marketing benefit.
I'm sure that across the globe wine shows don't differ much, unless they are dedicated to the trade and the trade is there with the serious intention of purchasing wine for reselling.
So why do we have wine shows? Above all in the hope that you will get lucky and the consumer will leave the show having noticed and tasted your wine, and hopefully buying it in future. Not all wine farms waste their money, I would think that De Toren probably can attribute their meteoric rise to the the top in part to their showing at Winex. But then they did not just leave it to the odds in the hope that they will get noticed. Their stand is always very visible (they traditionally have taken the first stand at the front door) and are always nicely dressed, and above all they maintain contact by collecting details of those who taste and send email newsletters to them.
Wine awards (except maybe Veritas) does not reach the man on the street, only 20 odd thousand people read Wine Mag SA, and the rest of the market has very little exposure. Wine dinners have become common place even on the outskirts of Gauteng, and to my mind still remain the best possible way of marketing your wine in a controlled environment. And certainly costs far less than attending Winex!
All in all, I have to admit that I think South African wine marketers are not reaching their target markets effectively. Wine consumptions per capita in South Africa is declining, and no wonder, alcoholic fruit beverage industry excels at reaching the younger markets.
Maybe the fragmentation in the SA market can be blamed for this. As the smaller wine farms do not have the capital or necessary skills to do this effectively.
Wine Regions should try and stand together, pool their resources and fight for the young affluent market, especially under black South Africans, most of them eager to learn about wine, and with the disposable income to match.
South African wine farms can learn a lot from the one farm that has excelled at marketing itself, Stormhoek, it is however interesting to note that they have done very little direct marketing to the SA market, and this is speaking from a consumers point of view. What I know about Stormhoek comes from their wine blog and my retail days, and I would not have known of their wine blog if my brother had not sent me a cartoon from it! They are however hugely successful in the UK.
Above all, I write about wine marketing as I see it. The farms may disagree with me and feel that they can't possible do more. If you have noticed any good wine marketing recently please feel free to froward me the details.
Have a good wine week.