How we help answer the fundamental strategy questions of: ‘what markets do you want to be in’ and ‘how do you get there?’
After almost 20 years of existence and over 100 strategy projects completed around the world, it’s fair to say that Wine Intelligence has probably encountered most permutations of strategy questions that the wine industry might wish to know the answer to. During that time we have been fortunate to build up a varied network of industry experts and supply chain practitioners who can help us tackle what are potentially the biggest questions facing the senior management of a wine business: where to sell your product, and how to optimise your route to market.
A bad decision in terms of either market scope or market entry can be disastrous. Investing in the wrong markets, contracting the wrong importer or promoting your brand to the wrong target audience are some of the most common mistakes businesses make – whatever the industry. It is true that there is a degree of uncertainty in every decision making process that unfortunately can’t be predicted, but it is also true that good research and strategic thinking prior to decision making can help mitigate risks and accommodate negative outcomes.
One of the most common projects we do to help businesses is the classic “routes-to-market” project. This type of project will typically answer the questions: What markets do we want to be in, and how do we get there?
In some cases, the “what markets do we want to be in” question has already been answered with a short (or long) list of markets. Existing presence in certain markets may be the result of historic decisions, personal cultural biases, or simple chance. But what I have experienced in my wine industry career is that this first question should be answered with significantly more detail. Why those markets? Where in each market? City or rural? Which city and why? What type of channels and why? And so on. Giving well-structured and un-biased answers to this very important question at an early stage of the decision-making process will mitigate risks significantly and will be more likely to bring more positive outputs.
To run these projects, our starting point is often the tracking consumer data we hold going back a decade or more, plus a series of other data sources, to measure the attractiveness of 50 wine markets around the world – the results of which are summarised in our annual Global Compass report. But this annual study measures only generic attractiveness and should be looked at more as a starting point. This is because attractiveness for wines from Niagara can be very different to attractiveness for wines from Stellenbosch or for a given producer with a large portfolio of styles, for instance.
Getting the “where” right is a fundamental part of the decision, but it also requires a well-structured “how” process. This is where Wine Intelligence’s trade research experience and contact database can add unmatchable value. For these projects, we tap into our expert network to interview a number of trade professionals from the country and business area of interest, asking them the questions the client needs answers for. These questions will be asked during 45-minute interviews and will be split into two sections: a set of contextual questions and then more-specific questions answering exactly what you need. The later topics may include testing a client’s labels, understanding opportunity and barriers, mapping places to look for listings, mapping influencers or connectors one needs to contact and how, etc. We will develop the questionnaire, and once the interviews are done, our experienced researchers and analysts will combine all elements of the project into an easy-to-digest report. We also often run a strategy workshop with senior management to inform their final decision and help them take the first steps of the action plan towards executing that decision effectively.