September 2017 Issue of Wines & Vines
 
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Researching the Business of Wine Highlights Branding

 
by Andrew Adams
 
 

 

Rohnert Park, Calif.—This summer, academics from around the world gathered at Sonoma State University (SSU) to present research on a vitally important part of the wine industry: selling the stuff.

Ten years ago, researchers in management, economics and business from international universities formed the Academy of Wine Business Research (AWBR), which has met each year at wine business schools including SSU. Next year the group will convene in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

The conference at SSU included presentations about wine sales patterns, sustainability analysis, risk management, wine tourism, case studies and statistical analysis of the effects of wine ratings.

Larry Lockshin, head of the School of Marketing at the University of South Australia Business School and outgoing president of AWBR, presented some early findings from a thesis project by Anne-Marie Azzurro at the University of South Australia on trying to determine the factors influencing retailers’ decisions to stock wines. The study is seeking to determine the importance of taste, value, variety, region, price, packaging and other factors for retailers.

The qualitative study was based on interviews with buyers in Australia and is intended to help wineries determine how to best position their brands to capture the influence of retail buyers. Lockshin said the Australian market is split between two large companies (Woolworth’s and Wesfarmers) that account for about 60% of the market; the rest is covered by independent retailers who can have multiple locations.

Taste was the most important factor, with several retailers saying they had regular tasting panels in which they would compare a potential new product to what they were already carrying. “If it’s not better, or it doesn’t have a better deal or label or taste as good or better than what’s selling, they won’t put it on their shelf,” Lockshin said.

After taste, the most important factors were price, availability of shelf space, label and packaging, supplier terms, variety, region, uniqueness, brand, if a competitor offers the wine, awards, winemaker, exclusivity, vintage and winery size, in that order.

For a lesser known winery in a not-yet-famous region, Lockshin said it may be a better bet to focus on building one’s brand. 
 

 
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