Sunday, April 28, 2019

Annual SVB/WBM Direct Consumer Sales Videocast

      Lots of Shades and Few Patterns

When I wrote the business plan for Silicon Valley Bank's entrance to the wine industry in 1992, I did so largely from a researchers perspective, as I had only modest prior industry experience, and by the time I authored the plan, the industry had completely changed.

I discovered in the process that there were conflicting industry opinions from many of the experts and little research available to support those opinions. The research that was being done was being created by researchers in Chicago and New York; far from wine country. There was almost almost zero street-level intelligence, with the exception of the work done by Motto Kryla and Fisher and Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates.

As an analyst back then, deciphering the wine business was like trying to see patterns in the lead picture: Plenty of pop and thousands of brands, all trying to find their way in a crowded landscape. Every winery's nozzle was aimed in different directions - region, varietal, wine style, consumer, path to market, consumer segment - because strategy was too often supported by guess work.

That induced me to research and produce my own information for our customers - and the wine community as a whole. The upcoming videocast: Insights for Successful Consumer Wine sales is one such example. --> [signup here] <-- 

      What's the Greatest Risk Today?

The wine business is far more complex than people think. It's a maze of complexities with different models, varying paths to the consumer, pressure from federal, local, and state regulations, a lack of good information, controlling power in a small numbers of hands and changing consumer demand. Oftentime decisions are made with the love of the product in mind, versus a business decision being made with financial returns in mind.

Perhaps the greatest risk we should all be most worried about is our tendency to continue on on a path that's successful. If it works, we keep riding the trend as far as we can, until the strategy fails. In an industry that takes 5 years to get a fully mature yield, shouldn't we be making decisions with a view to meeting the future instead of reacting to the present? Where will things be in 5 years? I guarantee the industry 5 years from now will look very different than it does right now, so the strategies that are starting to wobble today, will be on life support five years from today.

With that in mind and the new SVB DtC Survey now complete, there are many things we'd like to bring out and discuss, including current insights from the survey as well as marketing solutions to consider. This is a time where we need people to grasp the issues, and participate in the evolution of the business and consumer. Getting out ahead of this evolution is where you will find opportunity for growth. 

      Understanding is the Beginning of Change

What are some of the changes we are seeing in this year's survey?

There are more tasting rooms being opened today versus wineries, as a result of the shift to direct to consumer sales, but since 2013, there are fewer of both being opened.

Tasting fees which have been increasing for years are now leveling off; a sign that tasting fees have reached the point where they may be discouraging good/new customers.

After years of seeing increases in by-appointment tastings, the percentage of pure by-appointment has dropped in favor of a mixed model, accepting both walk-in and those with appointments, with respondents suggesting the mix of tastings is also going more of a blend of formal and casual, reflecting consumers with split preferences - some preferring casual and others formal.

I hope that's enough of a teaser to get you to sign up for the annual SVB/Wine Business Monthly Live Videocast, where we will offer more dialogue on many new findings, along with a lively discussion of solutions and strategy.

In addition to myself and Cyril Penn, included as new guests this year are Tammy Boatright; a person with more than 20 years in direct marketing and winery management and Lisa Kislak with decades of experience in white table cloth restaurants applying data to drive marketing decisions.

Please [register] for this year's live telecast which will take place May 22nd at 9:30 Pacific Time. Joining live gets you into the chat room where you can ask questions of the panel, and discuss with wine people from across the globe. 

Even if you can't make this time, registering will get you the link to the videocast replay when that's available.

This year's panel will include:
        Tammy Boatright - President, VingDirect
        Lisa Kislak - Chief Marketing Officer of Crimson Wine Group
        Cyril Penn, Editor in Chief, Wine Business Monthly.

Date:   May 22nd, 2019
Time:  9:30 am - 10:30 AM Pacific Time