VINISTRA 2010 Round Table: INTERNATIONAL BRANDING OF CROATIAN WINE

Presentation by Cliff Rames, Wines of Croatia, on Friday, April 30, 2010 at Vinistra in Poreč, Croatia.  (Note: this is the complete presentation, presented here for posterity. Not everything in the presentation was articulated at the round table due to technical issues with the slide projector.)

photo courtesy of Jutarnji List

INTRODUCTION – the Time is Now

Anyone who ever has surfed the waves knows: timing is everything. If you don’t catch the wave at the right moment, it passes you and is gone.

The time is now. The wave has arrived. It is time for Croatia to commit to branding its wines for the international market through a well-funded and professional strategy of promotion, education and branding.

A general rule to keep in mind:

Good Timing + Quality Product + Successful Marketing = Sales $$$$ (helps Croatian economy & sustains wineries)

TIMING

>USA now #3 in wine consumption (hectoliters); wine consumption growing every year.  

>Wine Consumption per capita in USA:

  • 1999: 2.02 gallons (7.65 liters)
  • 2009: 2.50 gallons (9.46 liters)

>10 year growth of 24%.

>Imports account for 31% of total U.S. wine sales.

>Wine sales in U.S. have surpassed beer in total sales $$$.  

>Wine awareness among Americans is growing:

  • Many new wine schools & wine education programs.
  • Many new, young sommeliers.      
  • New sommeliers are thirsty for discovery – wines that are off the beaten path and non-traditional. 
  •                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                >Fastest growing market segment is the 70 million people that make up the “Millennial” generation (Gen X) (age 23 to 30)

    >This group:

    • Is plugged into social networking (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.)
    • They want to interact with what they are interested in.
    • They seek AUTHENTICITY.
    • They want an excellent quality to price ratio.

    >Gary Vaynerchuck of Wine Library has built on Empire by marketing wine to this group.

    Wine Library TV – Episode #798: Tasting the Wines of Croatia

     

    CHALLENGES TO MARKETING

    1. Croatia is an unknown entity. Most people don’t know where Croatia is or that the country produces wine.  Its native grape varieties and names of producers are hard for non-Croatian speakers to pronounce.

    2. U.S. importers of Croatian wines are small and have limited resources for promotion. Wines are “hand sold” door-to-door without any advertising or marketing budgets. 

     

    POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS 

    1. Expand current promotional activities, implement a marketing strategy, and create a public-private source of funding for promotional activities conducted by Wines of Croatia, Vinistra, Fine Wine Croatia, and others.
    2. Tell Croatia’s wine story. The STORY MUST BE TOLD in a simple, attractive and professional way!

    THE POWER OF THE STORY 

    A. Good Story = Brand Interest

    B. Excellent Quality to Price Ratio  =  Positive Consumer Experience

    A + B = Brand Loyalty

    American market is very democratic; Americans are very brand loyal consumers. Americans appreciate AUTHENTICITY. But they are FICKLE: they know if the product fails them, there are thousands of other choices.

    U.S. consumer expectations:

    1. A Good Story (AUTHENTICITY)

    2. Consistency of Quality

    3. Value (excellent Price to Quality Ratio)

    Important note: “Value” does not have to mean “cheap”; but the wine should have a “WOW factor” – it should be BETTER or MORE INTERESTING for the price than other international wines at the same price.

     **You can have best story in the world, but if product does not deliver positive experience at a VALUE PRICE, then you lose the consumer.

    IMPORTANT TAKING POINTS FOR CROATIA’S STORY 

    1. Croatia has a Wine Heritage & Tradition, which = Authenticity.
    2. Croatia has specific & unique “Terroir”. 
    3. Croatia has Unique Grape Varieties that grow nowhere else in the world.
    4. Croatia has the “Zinfandel Story”.

    A good story should provide details or facts that relate to something the consumer can understand (e.g., the “Zinfandel Story”).

    The STORY must answer the question: Why should I care?

    Then the PRODUCT must deliver the answer to: “Why should I buy this again?”

    A good story must also successfully balance: Romance + IntrigueFacts & Useful Information

    THE TIME IS NOW TO TELL THE CROATIAN WINE STORY!

    Remember:

    Old saying: “A rolling stone gathers no moss”.  

    New saying: “A wine bottle with a great marketing campaign gathers no dust”.

    Wines that have a strategic marketing plan and a well-told story sell better than wines without a support from a wine marketing board. 

     

    A WINE MARKETING BOARD FOR CROATIA? 

    Ideally, any wine marketing board should be a public-private partnership; meaning, partially government (public) funds and partially private (wineries, other vested interests) funds. 

    The model exists; it is not new! Many major wine-producing countries have state-sponsored wine marketing boards:

    Argentina: http://www.winesofargentina.org/en 

    Austria: http://www.austrian.wine.co.at/eindex.html 

    Chile: http://www.winesofchile.org/ 

    Germany: http://www.germanwineusa.com/ 

    Greece: http://www.allaboutgreekwine.com/ 

    Hungary: http://www.winesofhungary.com/ 

    Spain: http://www.winesfromspainusa.com/WFSUSA/WFSUSA.htm

    Even Macedonia! http://www.winemk.com/

    SUPPORT THE TROOPS

    The Wines of Croatia (www.winesofcroatia.com) and Fine Wine Croatia (www.finewinecroatia.com) projects have made some progress, but it is not enough. We need support from the government and wineries to launch a large-scale, professional and well-funded marketing campaign that utilizes various channels of communication, such as:

    >Social Networking/Websites

    >Written and Video Blogs

    >Advertisements in Wine Journals & Websites

    >Organized Tasting Events

    >Sponsored Trips to Croatian Wine Regions for International Sommeliers, Journalists & High-Profile Members of the Trade.  

    THE MARKETING CAMPAIGN 

    Should be:  Smart. Professional. Sustainable.

    Smart: Answers questions; Relates to consumer; Interactive

    Professional: High quality production/publications; Articulate; Attractive

    Sustainable: Seizes the momentum (“catch the wave”); Builds new momentum; Has long-term commitment & strategy.

    It will be hard work, but together we can make it happen. The time is now!

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