So Much Wine, So Much Boring Marketing
That was my contribution to the Winefairlive blog at the London International Wine & Spirit Fair yesterday.
As I said recently, I'm not a fan of trade shows as marketing tools but this was my first time at a wine show and so I hope my eyes were fresh ones (and yes they remained fresh as I did not touch a drop of alcohol). My immediate reaction was that there were so many similar-looking stands festooned with similar-looking bottles of wine that any hope of differentiation was going to be an uphill struggle.
Interaction was assured since there were thousands of wines that you were invited/expected to walk up and sample so a conversation could occur but I had the feeling it was a repetitive conversation. As I wandered around and asked people from all sorts of countries and all areas of the price spectrum about how they differentiated themselves, I heard nothing to change that impression. It emerged that it was somewhat analagous to the prescription pharmaceutical market where there are a limited number of buyers and you're not able to market direct to the ultimate consumers. It also emerged that the really big buyers were not there - they don't have to be - they sit in their offices and let the wine producers battle for an appointment.
So you'd think it was all the more important to make some noise and preferably a different noise. But I couldn't hear it. I received fascinating potted histories of the development of marketing and consumption trends over the years and across territories; I heard about the importance of labels to attract the fickle supermarket customer; and the ubiquitous desire for a greater marketing budget! But most of all, I heard of overcapacity and how it all boiled down to a selling game. So, innumerable labels but a commodity approach.
Now, we bloggers must not forget that we are an incestuous bunch prone to mutual linking and it was no surprise to me that most people there had very little real knowledge of blogging and perceived it as somewhat technical . But, at least, Stormhoek were trying something different and it was definitely noticed. They are trying other different things too and they will increasingly stand out from the crowd and, believe me, it is a crowd.