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Photo: Tim Jones / Wine Australia
Photo: Tim Jones / Wine Australia
12 Oct 2018
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Applications close on Friday 14 June for the Wine Australia-supported Nuffield Australia Scholarship 2020. Valued at $30,000, Nuffield enables producers to visit, learn and collaborate with some of the world’s leading agricultural enterprises across a wide range of industries. Apply at:


Success in the ‘fine wine’ sector is as much about understanding your customer’s emotional drivers as it is about the product itself.

That’s one of the conclusions Toby Bekkers came to at the end of his Nuffield Scholarship journey.

‘It’s one thing to make a great wine, but recognising that the customer is buying much more than a product may be the key to your future success’, said Toby, the co-owner of Bekkers Wine with his wife, Emmanuelle.

‘The customer is also satisfying an emotional desire when they buy your product.’



Toby and Emmanuelle set up their McLaren Vale Bekkers vineyard and winery in 2010, and from the start have had a clear focus on the top end of the market. At the same time, they have been interested to explore what can be learned from other industries that sell high-end products, primarily direct to the consumer.

To this end, Toby was awarded a 2017 Nuffield Scholarship, supported by Wine Australia, to explore world’s best practice in the marketing of fine wines directly to consumers.

His scholarship took him to the United States of America, Europe, Brazil, Singapore, Israel and Japan – where he attended conferences and business schools, visited best practice businesses including wineries, art houses, jewellers, automotive dealers and fashion houses, and met with high-end wine collectors.

‘During the process of research and interviews, I identified three key elements of success exhibited by luxury brands: they understand their unique brand identity; they seek to understand their customers’ emotional drivers of consumption; and they are master storytellers who present a consistent image’, Toby said.

‘It demonstrated to me that to reach success in the high-end sector – whether it be wine or cultured pearls or luxury cars – a change to the product is not always necessary, it’s also very much about the producer’s communication, focus and messaging.’

‘Product quality is only one part of the equation required to inspire customer desire and command price premiums’, says Toby Bekkers.


Toby recommends others in the wine sector apply for a Nuffield Scholarship.

‘What I learnt during my scholarship journey really helped me to get a better focus on my own business. I hope what I learnt can also be of benefit to other small wine producers.’

Toby’s recommendations to small wine producers are:

  • Understand your unique brand identity.
  • Continue to make great wine but accept that the customer is buying more than a product. They are satisfying emotional desires when they buy wine.
  • Seek to understand the customer’s underlying emotional drivers of consumption.
  • Customer Led Design or similar methods may be adapted to understand customers’ emotional drivers.
  • Maintain a consistency of image, stories and language that mesh with the brand identity and client emotional drivers. Conduct a simple audit to see which elements might be sending conflicting messages to the customer.
  • Focus equally on marketing as well as production. Successful brands resource the marketing part of the business. A detailed marketing plan and budget are useful tools.
  • Pride and confidence in one’s sector and product are intangible elements essential to success.

Toby's final report can be downloaded from the Nuffield International website here (PDF). 

Applications for Nuffield Scholarships 2020 will open in April 2019. For further information go to



This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.

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This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.