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Author reveals first steps to marketing magic
'I believe there are two approaches to developing a smart marketing plan for your business. You can get someone to draw up a standard marketing template with common concepts and action points... Fill in the blanks, tick the boxes, file it in a folder and put it on the shelf to gather dust for much of the year,' Goodman said.
'Or, the approach I took in the book was to provide a framework to think in a marketing way.
'I wanted to present the concepts, and provide the opportunity for people to look at their business, customers, distributors and other brands through a marketing lens... Understand the theory as to why some things work better than others and apply it to their own circumstance.'
The book breaks down the topic of marketing in the wine industry to three key chapters: what is marketing, understanding the customer and the marketing mix. Topics such as consumer behaviour, buyer behaviour, building brands, price, distribution channels, communications and promotions are all discussed.
As well as teaching the wine industry's next generation of marketers, Goodman has used his experience as a marketing consultant for wine brands, as well as industry research he has conducted over the past 10 years, as the foundations of the book.
Goodman says the wine industry is unique in the marketing world, as few other industries experience such a level of interest and engagement from the consumer.
'Even the lowest engaged consumer - and that is the vast majority of them, a fact this industry often forgets - cares enough to consider whether it's red or white, or a certain variety... As well as price,' he said. 'Even low levels of engagement drift into some form of conversation about the wine they are consuming.
'It's a very different level of involvement, say, for buying toilet paper, or even a lot of the food products we consume.'
However, Goodman warns the wine industry's unique consumer brings with it another marketing conundrum.
'This type of industry and engagement makes it easier to stuff up but when it works, it is much easier to capitalise on the success,' he said.
'Little has changed in the theory or principles of marketing... But what has changed significantly is the environment the wine industry is marketing in and to.
'The tools and ways to implement a marketing plan have expanded and become more user-friendly, but so has the pressure to get it right straight away. Consumers and businesses are much more savvy, time-pressured and unforgiving.'
Goodman cites a number of Australian wine brands and companies in his book.
'I think there are a great number of people in this industry doing amazing work in terms of marketing their product... In fact, I used only Australian examples in the book because a lot of overseas experts and academics in this field do look to this country for examples of marketing prowess,' he said.
'It's a real pleasure when you see people who have worked for companies and kicked real goals in terms of marketing their brands, now capitalising on what they've achieved by setting up their own businesses and brands.
'Brad Ray is one of those people I really admire. He did great things when working for Wirra Wirra and Coriole and now his efforts in setting up Zonte's Footstep and Dandelion Vineyard are really clever and unique.'
In his book, Goodman describes Zonte's Footstep as a good example of positioning the brand, with the right label design and the right story to the right market.
He has less to praise regarding the current Australian marketing plan, particularly its efforts to concentrate on lifting price-points for Australian wine.
'I can understand why it seems attractive to aim for higher price-points but at the same time it seems to have skimmed over some simple economics 101,' he said.
'If Australia seeks to sell more wine at higher price-points then basic economics will tell you that as a result less wine in volume terms will be sold... And I'm not convinced that's an outcome that will benefit Australia's current wine climate.
'I also think positioning an entire industry at higher price-points is a proposition that takes 30-40 years to successfully achieve... Instant lift of price-points through quality is not easy and will always come at the sacrifice of quantity for the sake of quality.
'Australia still needs to sell everything it makes and not all of it will be worthy of higher price-points. In fact, a great majority of it won't be but that doesn't mean it doesn't deserve some sound marketing investment.'
Goodman says higher price-points are really the domain of the artisan producer, 'i.e., someone who can craft a unique product but afford to not sell a lot of it'.
'I was listening to a radio interview with a French winemaker when I first started my wine marketing consultancy, where he said that people forget that it's barely 1 per cent of the total French production that is deemed world-best... The rest of the French wine is really not that good,' he said.
Goodman said the French winemaker went on to say that Australia was really unique as it may not be considered world-best but most would agree that the vast majority of wine made in Australia was above average.
'My question is, do we really want to be world-best for a small few or is it okay to accept the space and market ourselves as above average for many?' Goodman said.
He suggests Wines of Chile has set itself up very successfully in the arena of average wine and poses a substantial threat to Australia.
'Chile seems to be doing an amazing job of getting their big wineries onside and fully focussed on producing good average wine at good, average price-points... Lower than Australia's,' he said.
'It's smart economic sense, as they will be able to turn-over a much larger volume of wine for the right price. If Australia chooses to move away from this market, Chile will have free reign to grow a lucrative market share and I fear it could be very hard for Australia to come back to.'
Goodman thinks New Zealand is also an interesting space.
'NZ offers a case study that is almost the complete opposite of Australia's right now,' he said.
'They entered the market at extremely high price-points that have dropped significantly of late - and now need to find a way to adapt and survive in the current market space. It may be opposite to what Australia is experiencing but there's plenty we could learn from their experience.
'It's a strange reality, as their once $20 wines are now selling for $8-9, yet, they still pretty much taste like the $20 wines I paid for a few years ago.'
Ultimately, Goodman hopes the book will remind all wine producers, big and small, that getting smart about marketing is achievable - no matter the budget, staff numbers or expertise.
'The bigger companies have the advantage of dollars and staff to throw at marketing but they lose out to the small guys, in most cases, on authenticity and story,' he said.
'The small guys can also move much faster, make quick decisions that they don't have to run by a team of accountants and a boardroom full of suits. However, the bigger companies can more easily establish new brands to suit new tastes and trends.
'For both, it still quite simply comes down to presence in the market and in the consumer's mind.
'Ultimately, I hope the industry will use the information in the book as a viewfinder to consider their place, brand and story from a marketing perspective but, more importantly, consider it from the view of the consumers.'
Principles of Wine Marketing can be purchased from the Winetitles bookstore. Visit www.winebiz.com.au/bookstore.
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