Making great wine is one thing, but selling it is a completely different story. How do you communicate your brand’s message and build relationships with customers, let alone make your bottle stand out enough for it to be picked up in the first place? Thankfully there are people who are not only willing to take on this burden, but actually enjoy it- like our weekly crush, Tijana Laganin.
Tijana is a wine industry marketing expert who is passionate about making wine an experience that the everyday consumer can enjoy. From marketing with Project Wine, Gomersal and Chain of Ponds, and writing with Wine Pilot, Tijana has gained invaluable industry insights that she has generously shared with us today.
Where did your journey into the wine industry begin?
My journey is still a short one in comparison to most. Something I have realised in this industry is that once you enter, you never leave. Growing up in a suburb where the streets were named after grape varietals – Grenache Avenue and Riesling Crescent, I guess led to an early fascination. It was not until after university when my friends were landing themselves internships at the Big 4 that I entertained the idea of converting it into a potential career. A family friend was the greatest advocate, having been in the wine industry for over four decades he lived the cliché ‘love your job and you’ll never work a day in your life’.
What’s a wine and food combo you have across that shouldn’t work… but does?
There is nothing saying it shouldn’t work, however a pairing that may raise eyebrows is Chicken Twisties with Sauvignon Blanc. Highly recommend.
What led you into your role in Marketing & Sales at Project Wine, and what’s an average day at work like for you?
Adelaide is a small place, somebody ‘knows a guy’. It was at a friend’s birthday whilst talking with some parents (I was always that kid), that I expressed my interest in the wine industry. Right time, right place; one of the father’s had an opening for a marketing assistant role.
An average day: Emails.
You’re also making waves with the refreshing and witty articles you write for Wine Pilot. What inspired you to pursue wine writing, and what’s your process for writing an article?
Waves…. Perhaps ‘mild splashes’ however thank you I’m extremely flattered. A long standing fan of Carrie Bradshaw from Sex & The City, I saw there was a gap in the wine industry for pieces that did not take things too seriously. Fortunately, Angus Hughson from Wine Pilot shared my views and gave me an opportunity to have fun with it. Too often than not, we focus on writing for the minority when it is the majority who purchase the wines.
There is no real process. Very Gen Y of me… I use my mobile phone to write an article. At any point there will be a ‘live article’ that I slowly add to, texting myself ideas or phrases that are edited into something legible.
Talk to us a bit about your interest in making wine approachable, and removing the intimidation, for the common consumer.
In the wine industry we often get caught up in the ‘technical’ things, the wine jargon that the common consumer a) does not know, b) does not care to know. We forget the main purpose of wine… to bring people together. Our egos seem to complicate matters and as a result we have created this level of intimidation. My interest is to provide the common consumer with the confidence to explore different varieties, break the preconceived stigmas and generally have fun. No one should be scolded for mispronouncing Cabernet Sauvignon, instead they should be educated so the next time they order it, they can do so without hesitation.
How would you like to see wineries, and the industry as a whole, working to make wine more approachable?
Focusing on the simple things. Empathise with the consumer and don’t be afraid to speak in Layman’s Terms. People prefer the nuances of Cadbury Milk Chocolate over pencil shavings. Wine is more approachable when a person can relate. A Shiraz paired with Spaghetti Bolognese is more realistic than a pairing of wild boar and roasted chestnuts.
What would your approach be to building ongoing relationships with customers, in a world where brand loyalty is considered to be on the decline?
Good ol’ fashion customer service. There is a reason you get graded for ‘effort’ at school. A thank you note in an online order, replying to a comment on social media and treating a customer like a person rather than a dollar value. Brand loyalty has a rippling effect and word of mouth is a powerful tool (it’s also free).
What do you feel the Australian wine industry should be focusing on in the next 5 years?
The Australian Wine Industry should be focusing on educating and fostering the next generation of wine consumers. Taking a page from the Gin Industry’s book, one of the fastest growing alcohol sectors, they were able to convert the vodka cruiser drinker to a G&T. We should ask ourselves, how we can develop the palate of the Moscato/Fruity Lexia drinker and focus on a more empathetic relationship with our consumer. The Wine Industry has the power to remove any intimidation and encourage people to venture beyond Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc to the unknown territories of Viognier and Cabernet Franc.