Owner Kevin Buckler created a 4 bottle wine package called The Racing Series, and it has been wildly successful. It tells the story of Kevin’s two passions (wine and racing) and how they came together to push the limits of traditional wine marketing. By using rare blends and incredibly sleek packaging, Kevin has created a recipe for success.
Your vintage is ready! All your hard work and dedication has finally put wine in the bottle...but are you prepared to go to market?
Here's an easy 7 point checklist for going to market with your wine.
1) Learn about your customer
Who are you building your product for? Millennials? Baby boomers? On-premise locations? Or off-premise...to name a few. Think about which demographic is best suited to buying your product. Apothic by E.J. Gallo is aimed directly at millennials, for example. Gallo leveraged social media to promote more engagement between the brand and millennials, to lucrative results.
They wanted to target millennials, so they went to where the millennials congregated - social media. Where are your customers digesting their news?
How are you going to appeal towards your customer with your product? How does your product fit into their lives, and how does it emotionally impact them?
The label design, the label name, and the varietal all play into that. Millennials tend to like unique label designs and varietals — baby boomers like reputable estates, brands, and more "traditional" labels.
These are just two examples. Adobe Road Winery has a line up of wines called the Racing Series, which targets the racing enthusiast crowd.
To hone it down, ask yourself:
WHY SHOULD YOUR TARGET CUSTOMER CARE ABOUT YOU?
2) Know your competition, know yourself
Inevitability, there will be other products that want to capture your target customer, especially in an industry as competitive as the wine trade. So what are you going to do about it?
First is to go here and see how you stack up with look-alike products on price point.
Second, how are you different from your competition? What does your label art look like compared to similar brands? Packaging? Cork? And Capsule?
Third, do you have scores or accolades? Those can help with differentiating your product from others. If you're targeting an off-premise account, create shelf talkers to accompany your wine. (SevenFifty has a great write up on this)
The point is that you want to create a distinction with your product in comparison to your competition.
3) Pitch your positioning to stakeholders, and prepare the team.
Owners, you must make sure that everyone involved in selling the wine is in alignment with your points. If you are not the owner but a sales manager, the same principle applies. Think about it, if your team is not on board with your product, that will affect behavior with customers. Total alignment is necessary to make your product successful.
4) Plan your go-to-market strategy.
Now you have to ask yourself, how are you going to get your product to market? Are you going to be doing it through creating distributor relationships? Or, will you adapt a more direct-to-consumer relationships, or winery direct retailer relationships?
I think the best way to look at it is using the funnel vs flywheel analogies.
For distributors you would use a funnel strategy.
Image taken from Raka Creative
Keep in mind, when going with distributors you have no way to monitor the growth or health of the market they are selling into. Hence why obtaining them as a customer is the final step. There is no more input you can put in to help their success, once they take you on their books its up to them to sell your product.
Sounds inefficient, doesn't it? Luckily there is another way: the flywheel method. ...Instead of your customers coming out of the funnel never to be seen again, you can use their momentum as promoters to help attract and captivate the next round of customers and so on and so forth. Ideally, it’s a perpetually never-ending cycle of customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth working in your favor to keep that flywheel spinning.
Not very applicable to distributors, but when it comes to winery direct relationships or direct to consumer strategies, this is the best approach.
Then the question becomes, how do I get my product in-front of retailers or customers? A great way to is through the use of digital marketing. Merchant23 facilities winery direct sales by providing the distributor relationships for you. This means, you can nurture and be in charge of the success of your business, and not rely on others to do it for you. If you would like to find out more, check out our sellers guide here.
One more thing, when you're executing your go-to-market strategy, make sure you have customer relationship manager (CRM) in place to handle all incoming leads. You want to have a "pipeline" of sorts with all your leads that are interested in your product, like below:
Whether you're managing winery direct sales, working with distributors, or direct to consumer, its important to have a system to keep track of who has been sent samples, how many times you have followed up, and your success to loss ratio. CRMs are great for tracking these metrics!
5) The Marketing Campaign
Remember point 1, where I talked about how Apothic is geared towards millennials? Their marketing strategy was to use social media to have millennials interact with the brand. Let's take a look at Dom Pérignon.
Part of their marketing strategy was the creation of this ad. The target? The elite. The appeal? A drink in a class of its own. The approach is to appeal towards the target customer emotionally. That is how they will "win" over their business.
Another brand that had a fantastic marketing strategy is Stella Rosa. "The company has sponsored floats in the Rose Bowl, flown airplanes trailing banners down West Coast beaches, and placed a majority of its 400 billboards around the greater Los Angeles area…"
Big, boisterous and very much a shotgun effect, but it has been effective. They have been enjoying double-digit growth year after year. Essentially the strategy here was to saturate a particular area where their known target buyer persona is known to reside, and given how the brand has been received its working.
Understand how you are going to introduce your product to the market. Not every release needs to be like Stella, but make sure you have a strategy on launching the product when hitting a market!
6) Create promotional content
Take a look at how Bacardi launched a campaign that had substantial social media tie ins. #BacardiHouseParty became a focal point for the brand. They found that they were lagging in the millennial demographic, and to solve the problem they created content that would promote the brand towards millennials. It wasn't just comparisons or showcasing why their product was better; they gave their customers useful things. Right here they give you a playlist for your next house party.
Another example can be seen right here! Why do you think Merchant23 creates posts and content? While education in nature and aimed to be genuinely useful, we still want to build brand equity and trust with our customer base. Promotional material can take on many forms - and usually, the most effective types of it are educational for business to business, and emotional when going direct to consumer.
7) Launch the product
Almost ready. After doing the above steps, make sure you come up with goals. How many people do you want to reach? What kind of changes are you looking to see in your business? Come up with ways and metrics to analyze your strategies, and be ready to change them if you are not reaching your goals!
In other words, how many retailers are you going to need to call before you get a sale?
Here is an articles to better help you hone in on what that looks like. Often called key performance indicators (KPIs), this is a way to determine what is the most important metric you are going for. Another way to look at it is how you will define success? What does that look like for your product launch? Here is another excellent way to look at it, courtesy of Vital Design.