Making great wine is one thing, but exporting it is a completely different ball game. That’s why we asked Liz Schoen, an expert on wine exports, to give us her Top 3 tips for wineries looking to make waves in international waters.
With 15 years experience working in multiple senior domestic and international roles with Samuel Smith & Son and Negociants International under her belt, Liz Schoen is no stranger to export strategy. With her specialised knowledge of wine business and the European market, Liz now runs her own consultancy business helping wineries drive sales globally. Here are Liz’s “Top 3 Tips” when it comes to exporting wine.
1. Clarify your brand messaging
Run towards marketing, not away from it. If this isn’t your area of expertise, then make sure to get help!
Before beginning your export journey you want to ensure your brand messaging is clearly defined, that you know your value proposition and you have the framework to communicate this to your target audience. If you haven’t already got this established, it will actually help your domestic market sales as well!
Once your brand messaging is set, how the message is communicated can then be developed for new export markets. To become a global brand you will need a consistent message. For example, the cellar door brochure will probably not cut it for a trade show in Copenhagen targeted at finding a new distributor. You need to think about who you’re talking or selling to and adapt the messaging accordingly.
Another way of thinking about it is what does your wine brand say about you when you’re not around to tell the story, and is it appropriate to the export audience?
Find out how Australian wineries are making sure their message gets across in the export market here.
2. Know who you’re selling to
Do your homework on your export market choices. Which markets you enter should be a strategic choice based on market size, growth and competitive environment. Entering a new export market because you’ve been approached through a social media channel may be appealing in the short term, but is there growth potential and are these the right partners for you are questions to ask before you start shipping wine.
When time and resources are limited, planning upfront will save you time and money in the future. Making informed decisions and choices about where you enter, and having a clear checklist of what the right partnership looks like for you will help you know more quickly what right and wrong look like.
Understand cultural differences to ensure your wine label and/or brand messaging isn’t unknowingly offending your target market. What works in Australia may not work in that market. I presented a wine brand at an international trade fair to some Irish retailers, and found out the hard way that the name translated into that of an unpopular gang of thieves. Needless to say we didn’t win that listing!
Find out how Jane from Eight at the Gate Wines was able to remotely engage with her retailers and distributors when she exported her wines to the U.S here.
3. Understand the nuts and bolts
There are many benefits to exporting including sales growth, growing your brand equity, diversifying markets and spreading risk of reliance in more than just one market. But there are also risks, which can unravel all the hard work that’s been done in the first two steps. Understanding the compliance elements to exporting as well as assigning the right people to manage the export requirements will set you up for sustainable export success.
What you want to be on top of prior to export:
- Understand the laws, regulations and costs to get your wine into a new export market before beginning your export journey.
- Protect your intellectual property for the market/s you’re entering.
- Complete the right documentation prior to shipment
- Understand your pricing structure, ensuring all costs have been accounted for
- Understand your incoterms (International Commercial Terms) to know who is insured for what.
- Read Wine Australia’s Licensing and Compliance Guide for everything you need to know about the regulatory requirements for the production, sale and export of Australian wine.