Sunday, October 30, 2016

Louis Vuitton: A Story in Brand Destruction


Rome: The Eternal City

My fiance Jackie and I just got back from a spectacular 2 week wine cruise with Darioush Winery that started in Lisbon and ended in Rome. 

I've never been to Rome so we tagged on an extra 5 days at the end of the cruise to see the sights. 

There is a problem in going that extra week though. I don't care how big your suitcase is. By the time you've lived out of it for 2 weeks you are flat out of clean clothes so selecting something to wear becomes a challenge.

What I underestimated is just how that challenge could impact our shopping experience at one of the world's top luxury retailers. Ask yourself as you read though, 'could this happen at my winery?'

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Election Perspective from Europe

Who do Europeans Want for President?

I've been hiding in Europe while the most recent election debate has been taking place. I've been in Lisbon, Cadiz, Barcelona .... pretty much having sangria and tapas across the Iberian Peninsula. 

It's been more than civil over here, and I've really been interested to see the business growth in the region, at least with respect to tourism. My last visit here was in 2010 and things were miserable. But the usual tourist areas seem packed now which is good to see, because Spain for example still has more than a 22% unemployment rate and nearly 50% among youth. They really need tourism. In another change, after the terrorism in Nice I have noticed a larger police presence throughout the tourism areas and even some on La Rambla carrying weapons.

I fled over to Europe in part because thought I could get away from all the acrimony and derisive talk about the presidential race... and I wanted a vacation too. But guess what? People in Europe care about who the next "Leader of the Free World" will be too. It's the very first thing they want to talk about. And guess who they favor in a non-scientific poll? Answer: Neither.

You might be surprised to find the Europeans I've spoken with here seem more concerned with why these are the best two candidates we can find? I find myself explaining how our process works, and am getting a civics lesson in how other countries elect their leaders at the same time.

I've yet to find a single person tell me they would vote for either candidate but in an equally enlightening discovery unlike Americans, Europeans aren't glued to watching Sean Hannity or Rachel Madow so they aren't overly focused on the press revelations and network spin. Instead they are focused on what positives the candidates bring to the party while they go about their lives. 
I envy the Europeans because they aren't force fed the hype but I am glad we in America will soon be put out of our collective misery and we'll have a new leader. We'll have an election, I'll vote my conscience and I'm just glad it will be over for American's and Europeans alike!

But this Vote isn't Yet Over

Unlike the firm ending date for Presidential Election, the Silicon Valley Bank Annual Wine Conditions Survey which had been scheduled to close Friday, has been extended out and will now close Wednesday, October 19 at 5:00 PM Pacific time. This is a much easier decision than the Presidential Election.

For 12 minutes time, you will get the complete survey results, and dozens of relevant graphs and analysis that will help you benchmark your winery. This will be distributed only to those who complete the survey.

You can take the 2017 SVB Wine Conditions Survey here ------> [LINK]

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Annual SVB Wine Conditions Survey Ends Friday

 Header-Rows of Vines-600x160.jpg

Take the Survey

Face it. Getting actionable information in the wine business is challenging. You can pay more than $2,000 for an annual report on the wine business and in return, get regurgitated information. I once did that myself.

Thinking I would check on the offering of a group putting out a comprehensive report on the wine business, I was disappointed to find it was closer to a college level report that consolidated information from primary research. In fact several places cited the Silicon Valley Bank Annual Wine Report to support their findings.

There are a few places where you can get good primary research on the trends facing the business. For the past decade we've led a survey and conducted research with more than 600 wineries and the major AVA's participating from across the country each year. Why are we so lucky to get such strong participation? 

I think there are a few reasons:
  1. We deliver good and needed information to the business for free.
  2. We keep the information anonymous and noone can back into responses to determine who responded.
  3. We've earned the owner's trust that we aren't using your information to add you to a sales calling list.
  4. We give back more than we take. Only survey participants receive the complete data set back and that helps everyone in planning for the year ahead.
So I hope you will consider taking the survey this year. It takes about 12 minutes and in exchange, we will send without cost, the complete survey results, dozens of relevant graphs, and our early analysis on wine industry conditions. [Last year's survey results].

The survey is scheduled to close next Friday so please don't wait. Your participation will pay itself back many times over.

Take the survey now [LINK]


Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Scourge of Tourism Circa 1972

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Selling Millennials Through Myths & Lies (Final Part 3)

Millennials Are Normal People?

This is the third of a three part series: Part 1Part 2

If millennials are narcissistic, lazy, and entitled as described in our last post, you will need to quickly come up with some new marketing tactics. So instead of giving them a toaster for joining the wine club (a boomer era tactic), maybe you could give away a free mirror with every new account? Oh I know! What about giving away a tiara for the self-absorbed, and some Red Bull for the lazy ones?

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Selling Millennials Through Myths & Lies (Part 2 of 3)

Desperate to find the secret of the millennial code, media and researchers have taken creative license over the past fifteen years which in the final analysis, hasn't provided the hoped for guideposts that would convert marketing strategy into new consumers - at least as it relates to the wine business. But it has created a dialogue overblowing the impact of our youngest cohort (eg, above video.)

Monday, May 30, 2016

Selling Millennials Through Myths & Lies (Part 1)

Authenticity. Only for millennials?

Just the Facts

Millennials are the most engaged and socially connected generation of all cohorts. They demand sustainability and authenticity in their products. Socially responsible and transparent companies rank high in importance when it comes to their purchase decisions. They demand customization and wide selection. They consume more wine per occasion than all the other cohorts combined.

Thirty-three percent of Millennials say they are motivated to buy more frequently when a friend recommends a wine, but 99.8% say they like any wine better when a friend buys it for them. 

One hundred and fourteen percent agree with the statement that feeding one's animal spirits premium wine is better than hitting your toe with a hammer. The remaining percentage believe morning-after flat party beer is good for hydration, so long as there are no cigarette butts in the bottle. When there are butts in the beer, their preference to consume falls to 0.4% with a statistical error rate of +/- 0.4%

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Annual DtC Videocast Tomorrow - Last Chance Signup

I'm not fond of looking at pictures of myself. It's even worse when I try and grab a screen shot like the above from last year's Tasting Room videocast. Blech. Makes me sick. That looks like I'm getting ready to spit! Actually it's the end of a sentence where I'm saying 'tasting roooommmmm.' That's what I look like when I say 'm,' and it's the best I could do - I'm sad to say. But looks aren't everything. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Market to GenX at your own Risk

Let's talk about Millennials! How exciting is that conversation? Demographers and researchers are laser focused. It's a feeding frenzy at times because that's the growth opportunity of future retail. Boomers are old news, nothing to write home about and not hardly anywhere near as interesting as Millennials.

Oh ... there is GenX of course but why talk about them? They are a small cohort.... except they are the second largest consumer of fine wine in the U.S. today and the largest growth opportunity for most wineries, but that doesn't matter. Let's talk about Millennials!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The 2016 Wine Market Council's Findings Are Wrong

      WMC: "Millennials Consume 42% of all wine in America"

The Wine Market Council presented their annual 2016 roadshow in New York in January, and using the above slide announced with fanfare that Millennials are now the largest wine drinking population in America, consuming 42% of all wine and surpassing the boomers with 30% of total consumption. They also said Millennials were consuming 160 million cases compared to 114 million cases consumed for boomers (below right chart). 

To many of us in the business the facts appeared grossly exaggerated, but the media ran with the story because it was such a senstational headline. The long-awaited ascendance of the millennial had finally come we were told, and the articles proclaiming the fact hit the wires in waves:

     WMC: "Millennials and Boomers Consume the Same Amount of Wine."

Inexplicably, six weeks later at their Yountville presentation, devoid of any supporting facts or charts, the WMC offered the following totally contradictory statement in their presentation:
"Boomers and Millennials today account for nearly the same amount of wine consumption and Millennials will soon account for decidedly more consumption."

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Last Chance to Participate in the 2016 SVB DtC Survey

Every year when we start the Direct to Consumer Survey I'm always a little nervous about participation. The effort required to sell wine has become more difficult by the day, and owners have to make choices about where to invest their precious time. Survey results could be viewed as nice-to-have versus a critical need, but in this case I'd argue this is a have-to-have for wineries with Direct to Consumer sales.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Current Benchmarks for your Tasting Room

We know that the average winery today has nearly 60% of their sales made direct largely through wine clubs and tasting rooms. How do we know that? Through an annual survey conducted by SVB.

If you have a club or a tasting room, how do you know you are performing at the top of the club performance, or even above the average? If I asked you how many wineries pay for data capture within their comp structure in the tasting room, what would be your guess? 

Today 168 wineries have responded to the SVB Annual Tasting Room Survey and here is the result thus far for that question:

What about the average dollar comp awarded to tasting room staff in your region. Is that of interest? How about the average tenure of a club member sorted out by average price point so you can compare your winery against a winery with a similar price point? Would it help to know the average gain in club members in your AVA last year, or what about the average number of lost members?

Each of those questions are examples of benchmarks that will be available to you for free but here's the catch: The benchmarks are only available to those who take the 10-15 minutes to complete the survey. Isn't that an investment well worth making?

Take the Survey

When the survey is closed on March 18th, we will spend over 200 person hours completing the analysis and will then return charts, graphs, and an excel spreadsheet cleaned of any identifying information. You will be able to dig even deeper into the data if you want.

In May we will host a live videocast to go over some of the results as we did last year.

In the July issue of Wine Business Monthly, the magazine will publish some of the information and conclusions in their annual Direct To Consumer edition.

None of the above is possible without the 10-15 minutes invested in the survey itself. Please consider taking the time to answer the survey questions. Your participation will improve both your own direct program, and help the US wine industry improve.

Start the survey now: 


If you feel this content is worthwhile, please promote the link in your favorite social media platform, or even better - please forward the link to your winery colleagues and ask them to participate. 

If you would like your AVA to participate, we will also send them free Regional Benchmarks for their own use if we have a statistically significant sample size and an address to send the information. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Passion, Cuba, Women & Wine

Duck and Cover

I remember walking to school shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis. We were practicing ‘duck-and-cover’ drills in our classrooms, and we trained on what to do when we saw the blinding white flash. The propaganda video clip at the top is a great example of the beliefs of the day.

Wine and Cuban Hero Che
Walking to school in the early 60's, I’d plan where I would hide along the route just in case. One of the neighbors had a bomb shelter but after that, it was refrigerators in garages and fireplaces as the preferred hideouts. It was a discomforting time for the Country. President Kennedy embarrassed in the Bay of Pigs Invasion was staring down Khrushchev, the Premiere of the former USSR in a game of nuclear chicken with continental annihilation hanging in the balance.

With that as context, it’s surreal to find myself sitting in a bar in Havana Cuba writing this piece and participating in an official U.S. Trade Mission promoting California Wine. We're not promoting world peace or selling tractors. We're promoting a luxury product to a socialist country. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Video Replay of the SVB Wine Report & Chat

The first part of the year has turned into a fire hose of new industry information in the wine business. Right after we released the State of the Industry Report, we all ran to Unified to hear more discussion about industry trends. I missed Fred Franzia's lively lunch presentation Tuesday but was there all week and once again moderated the Thursday General Session. I then came home and got on a plane to Miami where I will leave with the Wine Institute and the Napa Vintners for a Trade Mission to Cuba at 4:00 am Sunday morning.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Final Signup: SVB Annual Report Release Thursday


Live Videocast

2016 State of the Wine Industry

Thursday, January 21, 2016
9:30 a.m.–10:30 a.m. PT

I expect this will be one of the most interesting reports we've ever authored. I would like to invite you to join us live for a discussion of the report and wine business with our expert panel: Rob McMillan, EVP & founder of Silicon Valley Bank’s Wine Division, Paul Mabray, Chief Strategy Officer of VinTank, Amy Hoopes, Chief Marketing Officer/EVP Global Sales at Wente Family Estates and Jeff Bitter with Allied Grape Growers.
We will review the findings of the 2016 State of the Wine Industry Report, which is based on SVB’s in-depth survey of wine industry experts and insiders, third-party research and Rob’s unique perspective as a long-time member within the wine industry.
This presentation will include insights on:
  • Changes in the market share of imported bulk and bottled wine
  • Predictions of 2016 sales growth in the fine wine segment
  • Winery financial performance
  • Expected changed in U.S. per capita and total consumption
  • Consumer demand changes
  • Harvest yields and bulk inventories
  • Prediced changes in the opportunities of domestic wine producing regions
  • Bottle price changes  
Please [register] for the videocast and receive a link to the replay and the complete 2016 Wine Industry Report after the live event.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

What if you Discount Wine and Case Sales Drop?

Source: Nielsen Beverage
      Just Slip Out the Back, Jack

It can be a little hard getting revved back up when the year starts. Truth be told, few of us are excited to jump back in full speed. We'd rather slip back to revel in the warmth of the holiday's then start executing on the new plan.

I have a little difficulty finding normal when the year starts because November and December find me researching and writing the Banks Annual State of the Industry Report. Add in Christmas, the New Year, business holiday parties, routine daily business issues and my birthday  - which falls on December 24th, but it's OK if you forgot. You can get me a gift next time. Anyway.... I can't wait to start the new year and find normal again!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

What Does the Wine Business Fear Most?


With the New Year's Resolutions on our minds, one related question someone inevitably brings up is "do-overs." If you had a chance to do anything over, what would that be?

I have more than my fair share but I'll throw out one. It's the story of the young lady who agreed to marry me when I was 21 and she was 18. I thought she was a real keeper and we were in love. She said yes! I was so excited until my brand new fiancĂ© said I had to ask her father and then reality started to set in. What if he said no?