The power of ‘honing-in’ for market growth

Presenter Stuart Mosman, sales and marketing senior manager at Hentley Farms

by Meg Riley

‘Honing-in’ was the focus at the Wine Communicators of Australia Wine Growth Summit in Adelaide yesterday, with industry professionals reiterating the results of knowing your market, playing to your strengths, and tailoring the experience to your specific consumer.


What is working?

Stuart Mosman, sales and marketing senior manager at Hentley Farms, said that social media had proven to be one of the most powerful advertising tools for his brand, as it allowed the team insights into the specific data about potential consumers.

When launching in Pennsylvania, Mosman said social media was critical in reaching the consumer base.

“What we were hoping to do, is find anyone on social media who has scrolled through and looked at an Australian wine page for longer than three seconds,” explained Mosman.

From there, the company had access to the postcode of each user who had interacted with an Australian wine page, and target advertising to people with that interest in that specific postcode. Mosman said this tactic drove visitation to stores, and products off the shelves.



Eric Ma


Honing-in on your specific consumer was a common thread throughout the event, with companies encouraged to know their market and know their consumer as thoroughly as possible, as this is instrumental to growing your brand.

“Don’t try and be all things to all markets,” advised Trent Burge, owner and CEO of Burge Family Wine Estates.

Burge said that the best results for his company came from fostering strong relationships with his distributors, and emphasised the importance of investing in market visits, which he said was key to the brand’s success in the UK market.

Eric Ma, the general manager at Knappstein Winery, explained that tailoring your approach to your consumer was also a beneficial way to avoid spreading your resources too thin.

“We ask ourselves the question: what’s relevant to our importer? What’s relevant to our importer’s customers, to the consumers?”

Something as simple as a neck tag on the bottle can help to communicate the brand story to consumers when manpower or financial resources are a barrier.

Approaching each export market was critical to success, Ma said, with different markets valuing different interactions and etiquettes.

The adult per capita wine consumption in China is 0.4 litres, which Ma said showed room to grow, as this figure is considerably lower than other countries such as South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

Ma was positive about the future of Australian wine, noting that even in China there was excitement at the prospect of Australian wines returning.


Trent Burge, Katherine Brown, Angus Lilley and Angus Barnes


Led by Angus Barnes, executive chair of Wine Communicators Australia, a panel discussion between Trent Burge, Katherine Brown (corporate affairs and brand ambassador, Brown Family Wine Group) and Angus Lilley (chief revenue growth officer, Treasury Wine Estates) kicked off the topic of market growth by discussing the explosion of the experience economy, and the trap of the ‘value for money’ perception.

“I think value for money is a really confusing way to look at the market,” said Brown.

“Rather than talking about trying to get value for money, I think we need to talk about brand-building, and give our consumers reasons to buy into our brand and to consume our products with a sense of pride, rather than just thinking about what came out of their wallet.”


Re-entering the China market

Tackling the prospect of a re-engagement in trade with China, panellists Richard Dolan (managing director, Bec Hardy Wines), Sean Keenihan (president, Australia China Business Council SA), and Anthony Grundel (TradeStart export advisor, Department for Trade and Investment, SA) covered the key changes to be aware of in the China market since 2020.

Top of this list was the GACC requirement, which was introduced in 2022, as well as the well-covered fall in consumption in China.


Sean Keenihan, Richard Dolan, Anthony Grundel and moderator Marianne Duluk


Undeterred, the panel noted that opportunity remained for producers willing to put in the work, and tailor their products to the specific market. This entailed understanding the cultural breadth between the north and south of the country, focussing on quality and fostering meaningful relationships.

“There’s still a lot of opportunity in China, you’ve just got to work harder for it,” said Dolan, reiterating the benefits of developing close relationships with distributors.

“The days of stumbling over somebody at the baggage carousel at the airport who then buys two containers before you’re out of customs, those days are gone.”

Grundel said that for the China market, a key point of interest was wine’s association with lifestyle, a trend which he had observed on the latest popular social media platform in China – Little Red Book.

Dolan noted there was an increased interest in white and sparkling wines in the Chinese market.

“Dust off your whites, don’t just take your reds to the trade tastings!”

Overall, the panel was optimistic (“yet cautious”, as is all of Australia), that re-entry into China could spell promising results for the Australian wine industry.

“What we’re hearing is genuine trading relationships: everyone’s reconnecting with existing trading relationships, because we believe that demand is there, but the market has definitely changed,” said Grundel.

“You need to go [and] spend some time in the market, spend some shoe leather and understand what’s going on.”

“We have more in common with China than we have differences,” said Keenihan.

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