Monday, March 03, 2008

Looking for the new paradigm

From an article in Meiningers Wine Business International
In the last issue of Meininger's Wine Business International, Dan Jago, wine supremo of the UK giant Tesco asked his suppliers to give his customers more reasons to spend more money on a bottle of wine. That call, from the largest wine retailer in the world, reminded me of a couple of other things I'd read in recent months. First there was a line from " Small is the New Big" a new book by the American writer Seth Godin, whose previous works include the hugely recommendable Purple Cow, and A ll Marketers Are Liars: The Power of of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-trust World. Godin suggests that anyone in any kind of business today needs to answer three basic questions:

Who are you?

What do you do?

and, most importantly,

Why should I care?

Now, hold onto those thoughts and then turn your attention to another visionary American called Marc Engel, Associate Partner and Director of Wines Research at a Californian marketing research agency called B/R/S. Last year, he gave a talk at the Wine Evolution conference in Paris entitled Engaging the Wine Consumer: A New Paradigm. The difference between Engel's "new" paradigm with the one that went before, is the gulf that separates a monologue from a conversation. Traditionally, wine producers – like makers of other products – tended to say "Hey, consumer, here's my story and why you should buy my wine.". That "story" might have been about terroir, history, Parker points or whatever, but in Engel's view it tended to be a "one-size-fits-all approach in which [the winemakers] assumed there was a singular type of person who perceived and used their product as suggested. This approach was paternalistic, even authoritarian".
Consumers, by contrast now say "Hey, winery, catch my interest and I'll build my own story around you based on what's important to me." Catching that interest could be achieved by a few words in a magazine, by an eye-catching t-shirt, a bargain price tag or a memorable label – or, and this is the tricky part, by something else altogether. Successful players in today's market have to be like a clever trout fisherman who has learned the subtle art of using a rod and fly. Or, more prosaically, a successful participant in sessions of speed dating where the skill lies in making the required impression on a potential date in less than three minutes. Of course, explaining that mastering speed dating is a necessary way to run your business more effectively may take some explaining to loved ones at home, but sometimes, one simply has to make a few personal sacrifices.

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