With more than 6 000 wine labels on South African shelves, just how should wine producers get consumers’ attention? Tim Hutchinson, the chief executive of Douglas Green Bellingham, spoke to the retailers to find the answer.

At a recent information day held by VinPro, the wine farmers’ service organisation, Hutchinson told more than 500 grape farmers, winemakers, wholesalers and labour what he had found out.

Hutchinson says wine marketing is not rocket science, and the message should be simple and use a lot of common sense. Winemakers, the key elements of wine brands, must be visible and the trade should get to know them because selling wine is a people business.

Browsing through Tim Hutchinson’s presentation I came across these two little gems:

“Marketers & Producers need to spend more time in retail outlets at ‘the
rock face’. They have become blindfolded to the opportunities available. I
can count on my one hand the amount of marketers / producers that I have
seen in stores at peak periods”. Mark Norris, Ultra Liquors.

“South Africa is still lacking a clear consumer cue and we are not seeing the
numbers come through as we would have hoped. Innovative and consumer
friendly packaging is essential, but it’s no good having great wine if no one
takes it off shelf. South Africa producers still need to better understand the
UK consumer”. Graham Nash, Tesco.

Here’s my take on all of this:

Speaking to your “ real customers” (the end user or consumer) is an even better strategy. Ask them three simple questions:

  • Why did you purchase our product on this occasion?

  • Did our product meet your expectations?

  • If not, why not?

Asking the right questions can deliver data that can power business decisions. Use this information to your advantage when negotiating with buyers. Many Wine Estates have an unfair advantage as well - the tasting room.

Download the Vinpro Information Day Presentations.

Read “In search of the perfect question”.


Spier Wines Join Facebook

Filed Under Wine Marketing | Comments Off

Spier’s Cape wine harvest 2008 is at your fingertips, with a visit to Great Grapes; Spier’s Facebook harvest site.

Updates will be posted on alternate days, or daily, as the news occurs.

According to Erica Meles-Liebenberg the idea is to take the news to the audience, rather than try to bring the audience to the news. Some 63 million people are active Facebook users, and registration is growing by 250,000 a day. Of these 567,283 users are registered to South Africa.


Consumers & supermarket buyers are sick and tired of “copy cats”.

Thinking “out of the box” is not good enough - create “the box”.

What business is your company really in? (The trick is to define the business as your customers see you in.)

Embrace “Conversation Marketing”

Create a purple cow.

This weeks featured wine label design is from the Douglas Green Diversity range, which is aimed at capturing the imagination of young female fashion consious supermarket shoppers. Design & concept by AnthonyLaneChristieSmuts.

Comments Donna Christie: “The Douglas Green & Bellingham were fantastic projects to work on – very challenging but extremely rewarding when you see the clients ‘return on investment’ in increased sales! It helps our clients also understand the value of intellectual/creative property which is often a struggle”.

AnthonyLaneChristieSmuts is the result of a merger between Anthony Lane Design Consultancy and Donna Christie cc in late 2006. Over the past decade, the business has grown from a design studio to a strategic marketing consultancy offering a range of services in brand development and positioning.

The company is headed by Anthony Lane, Donna Christie and Nic Smuts who together combine their strategic, creative and business skills to provide a considered approach to creative solutions. They are now more equipped to handle the development of wine label to in-store promotion in 300 stores nationwide. Kind of like – ‘brand custodians’.


Whether your supplying barrels, bottles, labels, or whatever, the ability to precisely target your potential customers is worth it’s weight in gold. Information is power. Suppliers to the wine industry have many resources available. Start with these:

The Marketing Association of the English Wine Industry. A listing of over 150 English Vineyards.

South African Wine Industry Information & Systems. Industry directory searchable by category.

Wine Trade Online New Zealand. An excellent source for New Zealand Wine & Hospitality links and wine producers.

Winetitles Australia. Publishers of the Australian & New Zealand Wine Industry Directory.  Online winery database.

Wines & Vines USA Directory Online. Search for 5,000+ USA wineries.

Do you know of any other similar resources not listed here?

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