To make significant inroads into the United Kingdom (UK) and United States of America (USA) markets, Australian wine brands have to offer an authentic and engaging story.
That’s a key finding of a recently-completed study of UK- and USA-based importers, retailers and distributors, followed by a survey of Australian wine exporters to these markets.
Lead researcher Roberta Crouch, Professor in Business Management at Flinders University, said Australia’s ‘cliched’ image of ‘kangaroos, koalas and crocodiles’ remained a major challenge for fine wine importers.
‘Many retailers and distributors draw a blank when thinking about Australia beyond these stereotypical images – none of which are associated with fine wines! So we need to “add” to our story in a way that shows off our expertise, high standard of living and love of fine foods and wine’, Professor Crouch said.
She said while Australian wine was considered ‘very good’ to ‘excellent’ by some of those surveyed and interviewed, in general the feedback was that their customers did not consider Australian wines when seeking to buy a premium wine.
‘Hence, retailers and distributors didn’t stock it, or only had a limited range.’
Professor Crouch said the findings in the Ties that Bind project confirmed the critical nature of an authentic and engaging brand story – ‘a reason to buy a brand and become involved with it.’
‘It must be more than the common mantra of “we’re passionate about our wines/we’re a family brand/we make great wine”. Be clear on why your wines are worth paying a premium price for. What is important to you in making your wines? What do you stand for as a brand?’
The premium segments of the UK and the USA markets are dominated by people who wish to share congruent business and wine-based philosophies with their suppliers. They are more likely to stock wines they personally find desirable and from producers those values and philosophies they share.
‘This authentic brand story then needs to be communicated consistently and flow through to all brand assets – including bottles, labels, web sites and social media.’
It’s difficult to really sell Australian wine on the value; it has to be something beyond that. People have got to really love the wine, love the concept, love the story and love the label – survey participant
Professor Crouch said the trade in the USA and UK and their fine wine customers used the internet and social media to learn about a brand before and after consumption - ‘so you need to make sure everything presented is professional and on message before you attempt to tap into those markets.’
These are hyper competitive markets – the entire world is trying to sell them wine – Professor Roberta Crouch
Other findings from the research:
- In general, opinions of Australians as business partners were positive, with Australians considered to be good-humoured, honest and trustworthy.
- Australians are seen as fun, easy going, laid back and not sophisticated – which was reflected in the way our wine was viewed.
- Australian wines did not figure highly in the portfolios of those surveyed and comprised an average of around 6 per cent of wine imported, with French and Italian wines dominating.
The final report for the Ties that Bind project is available here. The outcome of this research will be the provision of a ‘kit’ of strategic advice for existing and potential Australian wine exporters.